Read a great post recently at Twist Image on selling 2.0 – letting the customer do the communicating. Mitch writes on the great strategy used by e-commerce sites for empowering consumers to be vocal about products and what they like and don’t directly on the same page as the product.
Amazon comes to mind as a site that does this extremely well. When making a purchase (which is pretty frequently as I’m addicted to reading) I always read the consumer reviews there, especially when it comes to new authors. The consumer reviews always tell the real story about the product. And everyone knows it, I am willing to bet a heat-map of an Amazon product page shows consumers spending more time reading reviews than the publisher copy someone painstakingly drafted.
Why is this? Simple – we know the publisher copy is going to gush praise. While it is worthwhile in getting someone’s attention and providing them an intro, what provides real value in a consumer site that is unfamiliar territory with a potential new visitor is other consumer’s opinions and thoughts. It is social proofing.