The Internet has provided consumers with the power to share their opinions with friends, family members and strangers. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as consumer review sites like Epinions and Yelp provide consumers with easy access to speaking openly about their good and bad experiences with a company.
Most people enjoy sharing information with others through these sites. If a customer has a great experience, they like to let everyone know about it and hopefully provide them with the same great experience by sending them to the business. Those who have negative experiences want to make sure that nobody else does, so they use these sites to warn others.
Since there are so many platforms for consumers to use to share their opinions, many consumers wonder which is more effective, social media or review sites.
The benefits of review sites is that they are designed specifically for reviews, so you know that people who land on the site are interested in what you have to say. These sites also have a place for you to leave comments as well as rate the business, either by giving them a grade or rating by stars. You can also post to these sites anonymously, which is very handy if want to keep your review stealth.
The downside to these sites is that many customers have stopped relying on them due to their inaccuracies. Since these sites tend to be free and easy to use, many businesses have started falsifying reviews. Some companies have hired people to create fake positive reviews for their business and post it to the site. Others have offered their employees an incentive if they jumped on these sites and wrote a positive review. Some companies have also used these sites to hurt their competition. Instead of writing positive reviews for themselves, they have written negative reviews about their competitors in hopes of swaying readers to choose their establishment instead. Not only are these practices dishonest, but they also provide users with inaccurate information.
Another downside is that spammers who are interested in black hat search engine optimization practices are using these public sites as a way to spam multiple people at once. These spammers are writing fake reviews and including links to unrelated websites to try and generate a large amount of web traffic in a short amount of time. While this may improve the spammer’s search engine ranking, it creates a false review for users who are really interested in learning what people have to say about an organization.
The benefits of social media is that you are able to share your personal experiences and opinions with people who choose to follow or friend you. By having a relationship with these people, you are able to provide them with an opinion from someone they can trust. Instead of relying on a review from a stranger, individuals can gain insight from people they know, which has a greater impact on their decision. Since social media sites are so integrated, along with reviews, individuals can also post links to the company’s website to give more information.
With Twitter, the use of hash tags and mentions allows users to reach out to a larger audience, not just their dedicated following. Now, people who are using Twitter search to learn more about a company will see your tweet in the result feed, and since you’re a real person with a real opinion, they will be more likely to take what you say into consideration.
Twitter also allows an easy way for companies to reach back out to you. If you left a great review, a company can publicly thank you for it, and they may even offer you a thank you present, such as a coupon for a discount. If you left a negative review, they can easily reach out to you and gain more information about your experience and find out what they can do to improve the situation. To console you for your bad experience, they may even offer you something as a way to apologize.
The downside to Twitter is that since it’s not technically a review site (though you can post whatever you want) you may annoy some people if you constantly use it to talk about your dining, healthcare or shopping experiences. Luckily if people don’t want to hear what you have to say, they can easily block you.
Since it’s not anonymous, you need to be prepared to have at least one person argue with you about your review. Though you may want to get involved in an online battle, it is a better idea to remind the individual that it’s acceptable to agree to disagree and never stoop to their level—it takes your class away.
Based on this information, it seems as if using social media is the better option. Not only can you provide information to both personal acquaintances as well as strangers, but you can also have the company reach out to you directly and offer you a thank you or an “I’m sorry” gift. Social media has more benefits than review sites and is the obvious choice when it comes to sharing opinions.
Jennifer Hawkins is a professional chef, restaurant owner, and dedicated mother who loves to write. She often gives advice to other business owners on anything from marketing to online review monitoring help.