The Voice of the People: is it the Death of the Professional Review?

Okay, we are going to ask a few simples question and we want you to give the FIRST answer that comes to your mind. Death of the Professional CriticBe honest.

  • There’s a new movie coming out and you are not sure if you want to go see it. Whose reviews do you pay more attention to – the movie critics or the recommendations posted by regular people who have seen the movie?
     
  • Pretend you need a new service provider, such as a carpenter, mechanic or beautician. Where do you turn for recommendations?
     
  • It’s time to plan your next holiday trip and you are looking online for a hotel. Whose reviews to you believe more – those posted by professional travel consultants or the ones from people who visited and actually paid to stay there?
According to recent research, if you are like most people, in each case you prefer recommendations and reviews that are given by “regular people” – especially ones that are most like you – over those that are written by “professionals” or “experts.”
The Hyperlocal Business Survey revealed that, “before visiting a local merchant, 37.4 percent of consumers first ask their peers about their experiences with the said business. This further supports the assertion made recently by Battery Ventures when it said that 55 percent of US consumers trust only the opinions, reviews, and recommendations of either family or friends.

"The Local Consumer Review Survey also shows a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews. Approximately 72% of the people surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as they do the personal recommendations of friends and family, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.

According to the results of “The Trust Factor” a survey conducted by About.com, 84% of the people responded by saying that they would not engage with a brand until trust has been established. And in today’s world, people are turning to social media, user-generated photos and online reviews to learn about the reputation of different businesses. This survey revealed that people consider online reviews are a key factor when it comes to building trust.

“Reviews were identified as inspiring trust twice as much as general likes, though seeing a like or recommendation from a friend increased the trust value of that action.”

The Weber Shanwick study “Buy It, Try It, Rate It” found that when it comes to making purchasing decisions on electronics, people trust customer reviews more than they do those of professional critics. The report found that 77% of respondents pay more attention to consumer reviews than those of the pros.

While there is merit to reading reviews that are written by professionals who have specialised knowledge and expertise within an area, what it really comes down to making the final decision of where to spend our money, we want to learn from people who are most like us. 

When it comes to professional reviews, there is often a question in the back of our mind. “What did this person get in exchange for this review?” And on the internet, with the explosion of affiliate programs, we may wonder “Is this what the person REALLY thinks or is he just saying it so that he can earn a commission?”

If we don’t know someone who can give us a personal recommendation, online reviews from other consumers are the next best thing. Yes, there are some businesses that will get people to post “fake” positive recommendations but there are ways to tell if there is something fishy about an online review. If you are using a reputable website where businesses can’t buy reviews, you can learn a lot about the experiences of other consumers that will help you find a business that you can trust. 

NB: On WOMO.com.au any user can flag any review they believe to be suspect or inappropriate. Plus we have a whole host of measures to prevent fake reviews.

Skyler

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