Back in the day when the Yellow Pages was king of business search, referrals and recommendations came directly from sources we trusted: family, friends, colleagues etc. People spread good news. Positive word-of-mouth was the prized marketing possession that most businesses craved for. Thing is, negativity spread much quicker than anything good a business may do. The saying goes something like this:
“Someone who receives good service will tell one person; someone who receives bad service will tell ten.”
For some reason, bad news travelled much quicker than good. I’m not entirely sure why; maybe it was (and still is to some extent) to do with our fascination with bad news. Things going wrong seemed to lure us in. Our sources were restricted to news outlets, local and national, via print, radio and television.
Back then, our networks were predominantly linked by telephone, or by actually getting together in person and talking (I know, who’d have thought!!). I would always remember the weekly conversation my Mum would have with her sister on the phone – for an hour! I recall the topics of conversation revolved around more negative than positive stories, which was also backed up by their opinions.
Has the invention of the internet spread good news?
In a relatively short space of time, the World Wide Web has allowed many mega-businesses to exist and grow to the biggest around today. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. wouldn’t be here without it. This short time period has also seen a rapid change in the way we interact with people. I see it as a forced evolution (something I will discuss in another blog). We are communicating by the rules of a social network. There are rules that are set by the platform, and rules (code) expected to be followed by the users as a whole. Some choose to break the code by being outspoken or attract attention using negativity (trolling).
This leads perfectly onto the reason why the internet has changed the way we spread news throughout our networks. Before WWW we had smaller, more close-knit networks with people who were very similar to us, had similar outlooks in life, interests and political views. Today we have vast networks with people we will NEVER meet face to face, but have connected with via social media. It is due to this bloating of our networks that our behaviour with news sharing has changed. Sharing positive news with a large group will now get good feedback, whereas negative opinions about something may put the user in a bad light.
All news travels fast, and opinions are everywhere!
It is not too surprising to hear that news is travelling around the globe quicker than ever. There is an abundant source of personal accounts and news generators, as well as the traditional sources mentioned above. The speed of search is instant, and a comment, image or video can go viral in a matter of moments.
There are social platforms for opinions: Trip Advisor is the most well known, but many other niche ones too, such as trades and restaurants. You want to buy something, eat somewhere, rent a car, go on holiday, there are opinions on it all. Business owners who can embrace this news and opinion spreading will need to master the customer journey.
Thousands of comments by unknown shoppers that build a picture of a business. Comments are vital when improving customer experience, bad as well as good. No comments are a worry. If your business isn’t getting many reviews you may want to incentivise the feedback (something we wholeheartedly recommend). The process a customer goes through is sometimes more important than the product or service itself.