Many businesses see social media as an outstanding way of reaching new customers and drawing them in to buy a product. While that's an accurate assessment of its value, it's missing a key component that is rapidly turning social media into the most powerful advertising force a business can use: peer recommendations.
What Are Peer Recommendations?
Peer recommendations are the event that occurs at the very end of the sales funnel: happy customers become promoters who recommend your product or service to other people they know. And more and more often, they're doing this in social spaces, such as Facebook, Twitter, online review sites, and so forth.
Armed with a peer recommendation, many people will jump straight from being a stranger to being a valuable paying customer... even if you didn't spend a single dollar to advertise directly to them.
So why do peer recommendations work so well? Two main reasons:
1. People trust their friends and family members to give honest, unbiased reviews. As discussed on Forbes, recommendations from family or friends tend to be the single most important influence on a buying decision.
2. Peer recommendations are readily available. Have you ever been scrolling through your Facebook Newsfeed when a friend asks, "Do you have a recommendation for a house painter (plumber, landscaper, etc.)?" And then all these people weigh in?
The true value of this for any business is hard to overstate. Recommendations aren't just the most affordable type of advertising, they're among the most effective as well.
How To Get More Peer Recommendations
1. Ask people to share their experiences. The easiest way to get more peer recommendations is to directly ask. Ask for a review, a rating, a shout-out on social media. Do this on...
On social accounts. For example, on Facebook, you could ask your fans, "How was your most recent visit/purchase? Let us know and/or leave a review. Tell your friends and family too!"
2. Make sure you promote your social buttons. Make sure people know all the social spaces you occupy, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth, so that they can follow, like, share, and leave positive comments, which boosts your social proof.
3. Make sure you "claim" your business profile on review sites that are relevant to your business. For example, if you own a restaurant, you'll want to make sure you claim your profile on Yelp. (And all businesses should claim their Google Business profile.)
4. Monitor your online reputation. Not all reviews will be glowing. This is OK. In fact, having an occasional "meh" review is not as bad as you might think. First, it gives your business a well-rounded feel (you should be suspicious of any business that has either ALL five-star reviews or all one-star reviews...both scenarios likely mean something is afoot). The key is transparency. How you respond to a negative review can be quite telling (and people WILL be watching).
Can you think of other ways to get more peer recommendations? Share in the comments.