Occasionally the Bazaarblog will feature guest bloggers. Today's blog was written and contributed by Tung Huynh, one of our Community Managers dedicated to helping clients leverage the Bazaarvoice solution, drive review volume, and promote ratings and reviews online and offline.
Recently the Wall Street Journal featured an article titled "The Wizards of Buzz". In it the authors cite how Web 2.0 is "turning ordinary people into hidden influencers, shaping what we read, watch, and buy." In today's connected and social media driven world, a twelve year old from Toronto is helping to define what "news" is on Reddit, a news site similar to Digg.
Here's a key excerpt from the article about the impact of these "ordinary people":
"The opinions of these key users have implications for advertisers shelling out money for Internet ads, trend watchers trying to understand what's cool among young people, and companies whose products or services get plucked for notice."
Earlier this year Brant posted a blog about Kevin Killian, who is writing a book solely about the 1,000s of reviews he's written on Amazon.com about books, movies, music, and other every day products. Killian is a prime example of an ordinary person who is influencing the market place. At Bazaarvoice we have found similar trends to support the WSJ's findings. Across all of our clients there are heavy reviewers that are influencing their respective communities. For example, take "jason7" from Cabela's, who has already written over 200 reviews since Cabela's launched ratings and reviews five months ago or "Kerri" from Macy*s, who has written 124 reviews since Macy's launched four months ago.
There's no question that reviewers made up of ordinary people like me and you are speaking their minds, and the masses are listening. Your customers are actively seeking these influential reviewers to help them make the best purchase decision possible. The clients that will be most successful in this Web 2.0 era are those that can listen and act upon what their customer communities are telling them.
The question is: What are you going to do to leverage the most influential members of your community?
Here are a few key recommendations on how to build and foster your own influential online community:
- Identify your company's top reviewers and supporters based on the quantity and quality of their reviews. You may also want to factor in their Net Promoter response to seek out your company's most loyal customers.
- Provide incentives for these top reviewers. Encourage them to return to your site and continue writing insightful reviews that will benefit the rest of your online community. It's important to reach out to these reviewers, thank them for their feedback, and give them an incentive to return to your site. Ideas for incentives include: discounts off of their next purchase, free shipping, gift certificates, exclusive membership to your company's rewards club, or even a free sample of a new product before it's released to the public. These are great ways to ignite positive word of mouth throughout your online and offline community!
- Highlight your top reviewers and put a name, face, and identity to these ordinary people. Remember, these reviewers are leading by example by making great purchases and they're kind enough to share it with the rest of your online community – for free! Ideas for recognizing your best reviewers include featuring a "Reviewer of the Week" on your website or creating a "Meet Your Online Community" section featuring all of your top reviewers. You can also use their compelling review content in email marketing campaigns, newsletters, circulars, and even in-store signage!
I encourage you to let your creative juices flow and comment on what your company can do to identify and harness your most influential reviewers (which, in our experience, are usually your "alpha shoppers")!