Why Consumer Voice Is Winning Out Over Company Voice

The tides are turning – there was a time when consumers felt a healthy trust for the advertisements put out by companies, but this is no longer the case. According to a recent study by Nielsen, 92% of consumers worldwide say that they trust earned media advertising more than all other forms of advertising.  This trend demands an adequate response from businesses everywhere, to focus more on customer voice and less on traditional marketing.

Earned Media is Trusted Media
The Nielsen study found that personal recommendations are the most trusted form of advertising, with online opinions posted by consumers coming in next.  Ads on social networks, paid for by the company, are only trusted by 36% of respondents, and online banner ads only 33%.

A confirming study conducted at Elon University found the same trend in action.  When asked why they trusted costumer voice over company ads, some said that the consumer opinions were less biased and more credible.  Advertisers obviously have an agenda (sell the product and make money), while consumers do not.

The research also found that consumers are equally likely to post positive and negative reviews, showing that consumers are not more likely to try to take revenge for a poor product by posting a nasty review.  Amazon was the most popular site for reading consumer reviews.

Integrating This Emerging Trend Into Your Marketing Strategy
Companies that don’t update their strategies to meet the expectations of the consumer will fall by the wayside.  Enhance your social media marketing by doing more to relate to your consumers and site visitors, generating more earned media.

You can do this by getting interactive with your audience.  If you have a Facebook page, try creating an application that engages the user, that is interesting while informative.  You can do this with trivia, quizzes, and games.  Users who enjoy an app are likely to share it with their friends.

You can also offer an incentive to those consumers who share or review your product.  Get creative – an incentive can even be something like conferring an enviable status on a user, like publicly congratulating them for their help. There are also the traditional, tried and true methods of offering rewards, coupons, and other giveaway prizes.

So, how will you respond to this new demand?  The people have spoken, and what they want to hear are other people.  Building a social media marketing campaign that interacts dynamically and honestly with customers is by no means quick and easy, but the reward for doing so is a stable and publicly appreciated business.