How Online Reviews Can Foster a Deeper Connection Between Brands and Consumers

A more evergreen approach compared to social media posts

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Influencers and anything social media are the words du jour in brand building. Brands are clamoring to create branded connections via tactics like Instagrammable moments or encouraging their users to be visible brand ambassadors in an effort to drive awareness.

But most social media is ephemeral. Snapping a quick picture creates a momentary spark that is quickly offloaded to the cloud of your mind and then is just as quickly forgotten. Rarely do these actions foster a long-term memory because these fleeting instances are not stored in the part of your brain that memorializes experiences. However, neuroscience offers a proven path to help memorialize customers’ experiences with your brand.

As Ray Kurzweil writes in How to Create a Mind, neuroscience tells us the most effective way to memorialize a brand experience: put it in writing. The act of writing triggers your reticular activating system, which reminds your brain to pay close attention. By putting a brand experience into writing, as opposed to taking a quick photo, that moment is captured in the part of the brain that will more easily recall that memory. In other words, putting that experience in writing helps preserve that memory.

In the brand building world, the best manifestation of memorializing a customer’s experience is via online reviews, which are largely written down. Simply through the act of writing, these experiences become memorialized, and not just for the user who is creating the memory, but for others to see. Social media in general is a fleeting media with a short memory life. Reviews, on the other hand, are evergreen. They will continue to influence long after their original creator has hit “post.”

Social media in general is a fleeting media with a short memory life. Reviews, on the other hand, are evergreen.

Instead of chasing an ephemeral brand connection, brands should enable a deeper connection via online reviews.

Make it easy for customers to write a review of your brand

Enable them to memorialize that experience when it’s positive and even if it’s negative. A negative experience creates a strong emotional reaction, and if you’re responding to that review then you’re creating a dialogue that will form a lasting impression for your customer. Brands can encourage customers to write reviews easily from their site via a Review Us call-to-action or invite them to do so with a post-transaction email. The key is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to leave a review and to cement that experience in their mind.

Validate customers’ voices and experiences by responding

Responding to customers who took a few minutes to write a review validates their preservation of that brand memory, and it allows those who find the review years later to see your willingness to acknowledge their time and energy, perhaps even prompting them to write their own review. That review response can be in-house or via leveraging a third party that can be an extension of your marketing department, which can be a more cost-effective model.

Reward your five-star reviewers

Most brands ignore the positive reviews and focus only on the one- or two-star reviews. But let’s face it: Someone who wrote a five-star review took a few minutes to compliment your brand. They have already memorialized their love of the experience. The best way to make them even more of a brand ambassador is to reward them, and there are many creative ways to do that. You could, for example, embed a code within a review response that invites them to another microsite where there are different rewards for their effort and time.

Harness untapped insights from these experiences

Reviews are ripe with insights. There are thousands of comments that talk about your customers’ unmet needs and what they love or hate about your brand. There’s a reason why Amazon is mining reviews as they expand their private label brands or why Glossier analyzed thousands of beauty blog comments to develop new products that served unmet needs. Leverage companies with capabilities to not only pull reviews into one place but who can also employ natural language processing, word frequency techniques and statistical analysis to cull down insights that yield specific actions.

Stop chasing fleeting moments of brand connection and start capitalizing on what neuroscience has taught us, and leverage online reviews—your evergreen influencer—as a demand creation tool.