Word of mouth has been a source of opinion for centuries. Before the internet and telephones were invented, speaking to one another in person was the only way to share information. By the 21st century, businesses figured out how to shape word of mouth by encouraging customers to review them or convincing influencers to talk about the brand.
Amazon, Facebook, and Google have given consumers the reigns in sharing their unfiltered opinions in a more permanent way. Rather than telling a friend or two about the great product you just bought or the terrible service you received at a restaurant, you can now post about it on Facebook for your 500+ friends to see, either boosting or bashing a brand.
Search engines have also begun to track customer ratings and reviews as a ranking signal. Google has started to award businesses with a heavy volume of positive reviews by ranking them over businesses with a small number of reviews. Consumers now take to the internet to get opinions on a business rather than asking their friends. Searching online not only gives them reviews, but also shows them the location of the business and whether or not it has a good reputation.
Online word of mouth has truly opened doors for businesses. Rather than viewing Amazon, Google, and Facebook as a threat, companies have utilized the platforms to amplify their presence by asking customers to post reviews.
Automated word of mouth creates a cycle that affects a company’s reputation, visibility, and quality of service by optimizing searches, acquiring customers, and improving the experience. The upside of digital word of mouth is that businesses will have a say in the process. Brands should manage customer ratings/reviews on an ongoing basis; responding, monitoring, and learning from them. They should also be proactive by responding to negative reviews and letting the customer know that they care.
Google can give users and customers a better experience when searching for a business. We hope that this inspires you to give them a better experience when they find you!