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[4 comments]

Is Facebook the Path to Family & Friends Recommendations?

January 8, 2014

With its connections to family and friends and personal experiences, Facebook is the most trusted product review platform, according to a survey from Social Media Link, the marketing firm.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents indicated they trust Facebook for product and service recommendations, according to the survey of 10,337 active social media users. Less impressive is that Facebook's trust level is close to the 63 percent who trust blogs and retail websites.

But Facebook is tops by a notable degree among other social networks. Pinterest was trusted for product reviews by only 56 percent of respondents, YouTube, 51 percent; Twitter, 41 percent; and Google+, 41 percent.

Exploring the trust factors around reviews offered some insight as to why Facebook ranked so high:

Eighty-six percent agreed that reviews/recommendations by close friends and family have an impact on purchase decisions. Forty-two percent were swayed by an acquaintance, 39 percent by blogger reviews and only 11 percent by a celebrity review;

  • Some 40 percent indicated the most valuable reviews were those that contain personal stories, rather than a list of product benefits, which were most valuable to 34 percent. Only 15 percent agreed that ubiquitous star ratings were most valuable in influencing purchase.
  • Nearly-three quarters (77 percent) agreed that fewer than 10 reviews compel them to make a purchase decision;
  • Exploring freebies or paid endorsements, 86 percent said they trust friends and family who received a free product in exchange for a review, while a still high 68 percent said they trusted friends and family reviews that are pay for play. Free blogger reviews also ranked high (76 percent), although only 45 percent trusted paid blog reviews.
  • Seventy-eight percent said a positive experience prompted them to share their opinions online versus 47 percent who were prompted by a negative experience.

"There is a fantastic opportunity for marketers to leverage brand advocates to share their own brand experience with their unique social circles to influence purchase and mobilize this effort to help scale it," Jordan Herrmann, marketing director at Social Media Link, told ClickZ.

Discussion Questions:

How effectively are marketers tapping into the trust factor associated with Facebook relationships to develop brand advocates and drive sales? What will they need to do differently to achieve an appreciable improvement?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How effectively are marketers tapping into the trust factor associated with Facebook relationships to develop brand advocates and drive sales?

Comments:

Probably not as well as they could be. Social media is an emerging channel and one that marketers should be exploring and testing to learn more about how to most effectively leverage.

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Bill Davis, Director, MB&G Consulting

Facebook is simply the digital incarnation of "word of mouth" and respondents to this survey are saying as much. Marketers are mistaken to see this as an endorsement of Facebook as an effective medium for their advertising (though it can be). Instead, they should be doing the same things they did/do to generate positive WOM - deliver a great product experience from start to finish.

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Ben Ball, Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe

Word of mouth referrals and testimonials are powerful. The social networks provide that. Facebook is one of the top channels, and many advertisers and marketers take advantage of that. Regardless, of how trusted the channel is, there is another one right behind it. Go where YOUR customers are, regardless of the popularity of a specific social channel.

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Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations, LLC

The focus for marketers should not be on direct engagement on the social platforms to try to "control" the message or take advantage of it. The focus must be on creating content that excites people to share it and discuss it on social platforms. The most successful brands and products are those that are naturally "found" and exploded on social media. Don't try to over steer. Focus on amazing product and creating exceptional content that can be found and shared.

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Mike Osorio, Senior VP Organizational Change Management, DFS Group

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