Honest recommendations

One of the best uses of social media is for trusted reviews and recommendations. This works because, in theory, you build up a network of people who you know share your viewpoint. When they tell you that they have tried something and it was good, you listen and there’s a good chance you will try it too.

Marketeers are spoiling this.

More and more now I am seeing people making recommendations and bigging things up simply because someone has a vested interest in it. Maybe they are a client, maybe a friend. Maybe they are offering you some other incentive to post about them. There are 101 reasons.

This is all too prevalent in other places. It’s the reason why Googling product or service reviews is no longer of any use. It’s been the nature of the world offline for as long as any of us can remember.

Try and make the social media world a better place, think twice before you come out of a client meeting and shoehorn their product into your next tweet.

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11 thoughts on “Honest recommendations

  1. This is true, but the very nature of social media should counteract it. Just as I would only follow an in person recommendation from someone I trusted, I will only use online recommendations from someone I trust. This however reinforces what you say, in that your own integrity is key, once this is in question, people will trust you less and whatever you say looses value.
    This one’s a lesson for life in general I think, not just social media.

    Geoff

    1. True. Knowing the people you follow should make it easier for you to filter. I guess I follow some people for different reasons, I wouldn’t always trust their recommendations though.

  2. Whilst this is entirely true and a salient and good point. Someone openly reco’ing something is always a red herring, but is part of the construct of social media ‘to share’ ergo if you have had a good or bad experience you broadcast it.

    If the good experience happened to be with a business in which you are involved in some way, it may be fair to say that your experience would not be indicative of those others could expect to receive.

    It’s like beautiful women, their experience of life is different from everyone else’s and they have no idea in the main. Everyone treats them well.

    1. I don’t think that’s a construct, it’s organic and I find it helpful.

      I’m not talking about people who have actually used ot benefited from an interaction with a brand or business. Rather I mean people who will talk about how great their clients or friends are without actually experiencing it.

      I appreciate that you would never post a negative review of a client, but if you are in the marketing business then it’s better to keep a professional distance.

      1. I know what you are talking about with the ‘promotion’ of client brands constantly.
        I had an experience on twitter with a well known Scottish digital expert who was promoting a brand with a free offer (I am sure he was being paid to do so by the co.)
        I questioned the promotion as I had used the service and it was a terrible experience, over priced, poor quality, badly served etc. the reply I got to my tweet was – well who are you? I said I’m someone who paid and used it. It’s terrible, was well if they get it wrong I’m so good at promo’ing it a lot of people will know.

        Now the question is will I ever trust that person’s recommendation again.
        The simple answer is NO.

        In reference to what I said previously.
        The point I was getting at and perhaps badly worded it was, even if you have had a good experience with a client or connected brand, the experience you had is not indicative of that which Mr/Ms J Public would receive as the client brand knows you…

  3. Sorry Barry but to say that online recommendations are now invalid is crazy!

    People will always ‘big up’ things they have a vested interest in, that will never change, the social media space is no different and never will be. I find the majority of the time the faux examples are easy to pick out.

    If they are all false then there is an issue and you would naturally be weary. I really worry when a product/service/business/consultant has no recommendations what so ever.

  4. I can’t see where I’m saying that online recommendations are invalid. In fact I find them exceptionally useful

    It’s not easy to spot the insincere ones without proper disclosure. I don’t pay any attention to the recommendations of certain people I follow because I’ve seen too many endorsements of clients or friends and I can’t be bothered to sort the wheat from the chaff any more.

    1. Sorry I may have misunderstood ‘It’s the reason why Googling product or service reviews is no longer of any use’ on my first read.

      1. There’s a big difference between online recommendations and Google search reults.

        The former can be invaluable in making purchase decisions. The latter is a smorgasbord of review portals, price comaparison mash-ups and affiliate scams.

  5. It was ever thus but I do believe that the consumer is becoming far more sophisticated.

    The visitor to Tripadvisor knows that every destination can’t get 100% positive endorsements and indeed would be more suspicious if it did.

    More than that though they are filtering the information that is of particular interest to them.

    This will only improve as more and more people contribute their views and opinions about products and services.

    Part of the role of social media therefore should be to encourage and make it as easy as possible for people to contribute their opinions.

    We still have a long way to go however as most research suggests we are still at the 1, 9, 90 stage. 1% actively contribute, 9% will read and forward and 90% will just read and do nothing with it although it may have informed their opinion.

    While this of course may be laudable there will always be consumers who will prefer to be part of a ‘club’ which states who they are. They join the club by buying brands whether it be BMW, Nike, Tesco or whoever. They believe in and trust the brands and the promises that they offer. Equally they don’t have to try too hard and make too many decisions for themselves.

    So while it would be good to see social media empowering the consumer more and more not everyone will welcome such enlightenment.

  6. That’s a really interesting point Richard, hadn’t really considered brand slaves in all of this.

    It can still be difficult deciding which pair of Nikes to buy though, or which of the dizzying array of iPod versions is right for you. There’s still room within those groups for people to share their experience in order to help others make a choice.

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