You may have known it by now or you may have been doing it without knowing but once, twice or even very often you have relied on social media and other applications to make a decision before purchasing items or visiting a place.
Studies show that social technologies actually exist to solve specific problems and therefore one can argue that the reviews and rating interface helps to solve the problem of protecting users against any sort of manipulation by business owners and marketers. Social media therefore enables users to share content that will help other users to make informed decisions.
Reviews and ratings can no longer be disintegrated from social media applications and e-commerce platforms that are worth their salt, simply because the internet has become a powerful tool that is at the centre of marketing and advertising. What people are saying about a product or service may either modify or change your view before you check your wallet or purse to make that transaction.
However it has not always been this way, a few years back we had review and rating apps independently. I remember having Foursquare on my phone to review but also to know (based on other people’s reviews) the best places to eat, shop or visit.
Online review and rating services in apps therefore has the ability to compel local businesses to improve their products and services. Without further ado let’s talk about examples of apps and how they aid in decision making.
When you use Google maps to find a location you may make a decision about the best route to use based on traffic, the distance, road condition but most importantly the online reviews, photos and comments shared by other users about that place.
Once you reach your destination Google maps will also request that you rate your trip and the support of the app in finding your destination and so you leave that review for the next user to make an informed decision.
Jumia Rwanda is another example, a leading e-commerce platform for purchasing food, electronics, vehicles, clothes etc. and you don’t even need to log-in or have an account to check reviews.
Once you click on the item or restaurant to order, you come across comments and star ratings from previous customers and this will definitely influence your perception and decision while purchasing in some sort of way.
Playstore for Android users and Apple store for Apple users also use reviews and ratings to aid customers before they download an app. You may be interested in downloading a game on your phone or a health and fitness app to fit your lifestyle and as you scroll in search for the best, one attractive looking app pops up but before you can click on the install button you happen to come across a comment from a previous user who complains about their experience with too many advertisements while using the app, you check for the star rating and maybe it’s a 2-star app out of a possible 5 star rating and you quickly change your mind and move on to search for a suitable app.
Other apps such as Youtube, Twitter and Facebook may not be directly known for review and ratings but they are the greatest for lead generation. Twitter especially is known for being a safe place to vent.
An advertisement about a make-up product may have been uploaded on YouTube and as much as people may have commented their experiences and thoughts about the product just below the video, the conversation may extend to twitter as customers may use a hashtag to drive a discussion referencing to the YouTube video.
Or instead of searching for conversations online you can try it and start your own conservation today, just share a post on social media saying something like, “I would like to purchase item X what are your experiences with the product?” Wait and see how many people are willing to freely share information.
Some sectors have also employed the use of apps to improve service delivery e.g. the travel industry has airbnb, homestay, booking.com as some of the popular apps used to help travelers make decisions about travel destinations.
It is therefore safe to say that marketers, advertisers, communicators and business people must continue to take social media more seriously in the New Year.
We could learn two lessons from this, one, we should all have online presence for our brands and take into serious consideration what customers have to say about our products and services.
Secondly, you too could create your own app for your brand with the reviewing ability that can help you adjust according to customer needs.