How and Why the Human Brain Uses Reviews And
Recommendations as a Primary Source of Influence

Understanding the psychology of online reviews.

As we stated on our reputation management page, consumer trends firm Trendwatching was the first to coin the term “Twinsumer.” The basic definition is that consumer groups with similar patterns and preferences become valuable sources for sharing and recommending products, purchases, and experiences to others whom they share commonalities with.

Marketers can now precisely pinpoint influential consumer influencers based on factors such as age, appearance, occupation, favorite websites, hobbies, interests, musical taste, to entire biographies.

Before the web, word of mouth was limited only to real-world friends and a few trusted authority sources, such as Oprah. No longer. Through collaborative filtering, mass proliferation of personal profiles and web sites, and the birth of virtual communities, information has evolved to the point of spreading like wildfire. Customers have a stronger voice and greater outreach to influence others like them.

Today, it is the duty of any responsible business manager to drive positive word of mouth and leverage customer networks.

We humans value recommendations from peer groups (folks similar to us) more than we value an “expert” review. That means that when Monica S. is looking for a movie to watch, she’s much more likely to be influenced by Joanna P. than Siskel & Ebert.

The moral is that in a knowledge economy, audiences value and bestow status on individuals who share. Individuals who share useful, interesting information. Individuals who can recommend the best restaurant for tapas, the best marriage and family therapist, or the best auto repair shop. Online reviews created by like-minded peers in situations similar to them are the sought-after element that your potential customers are seeking.

The problem – and fascinating challenge – is that online consumer reviews can make or break a business. The most successful businesses today are leveraging word of mouth online through peer networks. It is hard to measure human idiosyncrasies, the preferences and prejudices, the likes and dislikes that exist. However, any uncertainties pertain only to people and to products, not to principle.

Research and consumer trends reveal that online reviews from peer groups of “regular” people with whom commonalities are shared are one of the key universal principles that influence consumer behavior.

The problem is that many business owners have little to no control over the conversations that are taking place on the web about them. What facilitates the positing of influential positive reviews within your customer base? Does it come down to having the best sesame seed buns, better meat, or the lowest prices? Actually – it’s much simpler than that. It begins with pro-actively engaging your customers. Invite them to share their thoughts about your business, whether good or bad. Inviting your customers to share their thoughts says “we care what you think” and inclines them to write positive feedback about your business.

The key to all of this is to leverage the psychology of peer-driven influence so that you can make more sales, expand your network, and ultimately make more money.

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