One of my favorite blogs is Kelly Mooney's "MooneyThinks". It is a very insightful and honest critique of many website and marketing campaign initiatives by the President of one of the best interactive agencies in the country, Resource Interactive. I have had the pleasure of working with Kelly for years, both on the Shop.org Board of Directors as well as a business partner (both at Coremetrics and Bazaarvoice). I even had the pleasure of speaking at her client summit last year, iCitizen.
Now Kelly is coming out with her second book, "The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World", in September. Here is an excerpt from ATG's newsletter today. Kelly will be keynoting their client summit in Charleston, SC next week. We will also be attending and presenting, as ATG is a partner of ours too (recently announced). "The Open Brand" is like "The Cluetrain Manifesto" (one of my favorite business books) except it is less of a rant and more prescriptive. We needed the rant and it was prescient in 1999, but now it is time to take action. "The Open Brand" is about taking action. I endorsed it as follows:
“My favorite business books are written by practitioners of the field. Through Resource Interactive, Kelly Mooney works with the world’s leading online brands. So when she provides a prescriptive guide, it pays to read it. ‘The Open Brand’ will revolutionize business as we know it. The Internet has put the networked consumer in control, but your business can actually skyrocket if you play by Kelly’s rules of an ‘open brand’.”
Kelly interviewed me for a special section in her book, and here is what I had to say:
Q. Will consumers eventually tire of writing reviews?
That is like asking if consumers will eventually tire of word of mouth. If you think about reviews as just one form of word of mouth, then the answer to this question becomes more obvious. As consumers contribute to their brands and communities of choice they will get more engaged. They may limit the number of places they invest time – as they become loyal to a brand that fosters relationships between customers. For example, there are almost 500 reviews for Kong toys and Greenies on PETCO. These reviewers are not writing many reviews of these products on shopping comparison sites like Yahoo!, Shopzilla, or even ePinions (the only established shopping comparison site that is synonymous with only reviews). Instead, they are investing time in a brand – PETCO – that they care about, sharing their opinion with fellow pet lovers where their word of mouth will have the greatest impact and where the deepest connections with other customers can be formed (due to their shared passion).
Q. What’s to stop a malicious competitor from marring a brand’s image via bad reviews?
First, the sheer backlash of engaging in these activities will scare most companies who care about the integrity of their brand from being malicious. Technologies and moderation capabilities are getting smarter about identifying likely malicious reviews. And the law is evolving also. The UK recently passed a law to prevent fraudulent reviews. Second, consumers self-police the community. It is not unusual to see consumers defend a product or service that they care about when a malicious comment is made (or even a non-malicious but highly negative one). The wisdom of the crowd ultimately comes to a final judgment about a product or service that no one malicious competitor can shape to their benefit.
Q. With more than 95% of retail sales still occurring offline, what’s your vision for how store shopping will be impacted by online reviews?
There will be convergence and availability of content, such as reviews, through several devices – such as mobile phones, in-store kiosks, and wireless POS systems (or other devices a salesperson can carry). In addition, in-store signage will feature ratings and sometimes reviews. It is just a matter of time when Web access becomes so ubiquitous that accessing reviews online in any channel will be the norm.
Look for my interview of Kelly soon in my ongoing Word-of-Mouth Wisdom Interview series.