Are You A Recognized Expert and a Trustworthy Online Source of Information?

If you are not participating in the conversations and telling your story, you might be allowing your competitors, detractors or a single unhappy customer to control your company’s public image

You might have designed and manufactured a product people want or need. You might own the company that produces and markets the product. Yet, when consumers are researching your product, are you a recognized expert and a trustworthy online source of information in their mind? The answer might depend on how much people know about you on the platforms they use for product/service research.

The Survey Says

According to the Cone Online Influence Tracker Survey (June 27 – 29, 2011), there are some facts you should consider when providing information about your products and services.

  • 89% of consumers believe internet channels are trustworthy sources of information and will use these channels to verify recommendations from friends and family
  • 87% say that a favorable review will confirm their decision to purchase
  • 80% say they have reversed a decision to buy based on negative reviews online.

Consider who qualifies as a product/service expert and a trustworthy online source:

  • 69% said someone who has used the product or service before
  • 60% said someone who has topic/subject credibility or expertise
  • 20% said someone who is often quoted by other experts
  • 11% said someone who has the same online friends, followers or interests as the individual
  • 11% said someone who is present on several media channels
  • 8% said someone who has a lot of social media followers

What Are They Saying About You?

For many small businesses, these statistics are somewhat unnerving. For others, the data provides some helpful guidance about where to focus some of your marketing efforts. A good place to start might be to find out what people are saying about your business or your products/services. Second, think carefully about how you describe and market your company.

  • What are people saying on the review sites (Angie’s list, epinion, rateitall). Do the reviews fairly and accurately represent the experiences of your customers? Are there satisfied customers who would post truthful positive reviews?
  • What are people saying on social platforms? Are there issues you can address? Is the social media platform a reasonable place to answer questions or address issues?
  • What are people writing in the media (newspapers, TV, Radio, magazines, and their online counterparts)? Are you influencing these reviews, or are unhappy customers setting the tone?

Not all conversations about your business, your products, or your brand are equally advantageous. If you are not participating in the conversations and telling your story, you might be allowing your competitors, detractors or a single unhappy customer to control your company’s public image.

What you can do

First, assess your/your company’s online profile. Viewed through the lens of social media presence, do you qualify as a recognized expert? Have you demonstrated trustworthiness? If your social media presence does not demonstrate expertise and credibility, you need an action plan to showcase your knowledge and expertise.

Second, find out what people are saying about your company and your products/services on the leading review sites. Create a process for asking satisfied customers to post their reviews on these sites. (Remember: you cannot pay them to do so.)

Third, locate and assess social media conversations relevant to your business, your products/services, and your industry. Start engaging in the conversations. Listen for customer and prospective customer needs, satisfactions, and dissatisfactions with existing products, and emerging opportunities you can fulfill.

In everything you do online, restrain yourself from selling. Remember: people want to buy; but they don’t want to be sold – especially in social media.

Staff, Little Black Dog Social Media & More

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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