Many of us use Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels to share our life experiences with our friends and followers. And since nothing is certain but death, taxes and the occasional bad customer service encounter, these channels are often a place for consumers to vent. Like an army of voices, we “like” and comment on posts recounting sub-par service, flawed gadgets and more. Conversely, social media is also a place to praise companies ‘doing it right’ and to spread the word about the best meals and deals in town.
On Facebook, I just read a post from a dear friend to The TJX Companies, Inc. that voiced her disgust over the fact that she wasn’t admitted into her local T.J. Maxx dressing room with a stroller containing her 6-month-old child. On a much more pleasant note – and just moments later – Facebook informed me that Legal Sea Foods was dishing out oysters for $1. We all work hard for our money and feel that only those rightfully deserving should receive it. I trust the majority of my friends and followers because they have no reason to lie about a bad experience. I feel confident that they were not paid to plug the $3 margarita they enjoyed last weekend. They’re real. They’re honest.
Many large corporations have taken note of this evolution in consumer communication (as well as the true, underlying power of collective intelligence) and have revamped their traditional testimonials to reflect the more informal and instant nature of social media feedback. Spend time on Buick’s YouTube channel and you’ll see that the automotive giant hung up Tiger Woods’ golf shoes (and a contract worth millions of dollars) and now uses ads featuring customers and engineers who appear to provide unvarnished, authentic opinions.
A recent campaign by Frebeze also plays up this “power to the people.” Commercials depict a blindfolded commoner lured into a dirty apartment and asked to describe what he or she smells. There’s no intermission where the test subject goes into hair and makeup, gets placed on a set and gives a traditional (and potentially sappy) testimonial. We get impromptu reactions that tell us whether the sweet scents of Febreze manage to mask the odor of a musty basement or dirty kitchen.
With so much optimism surrounding the ideas of collective intelligence and authenticity produced by Web 2.0 and social media, more and more consumers are putting faith into the sentiments of their peers rather than those of overpaid celebrity endorsers. In conclusion: Just keep it real. At this time I might not have the funds to go out and buy a Buick, but you can bet your tukas I purchased a bottle of Febreze (blindfold not included, if you were curious).