Why You Trust Anonymous Reviews More than You Trust Your Ex

trust anonymous reviews ex

66. That’s the number I want you to remember today. 

It’s a hexagonal and triangular number. It’s the name of the Mother Road, the famous and historic Route 66. Sixty-six is the international direct dialing code for Thailand. And, it is the number of hot dogs Joey Chestnut ate in 15 minutes in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in 2007 for the world record. It’s quite a number. 

We recently studied word of mouth to understand more about how it works in the year 2018. In our report, Chatter Matters, we’ve learned word of mouth isn’t created equally, and it is not spread out evenly.  

The same is true of trust. We don’t trust people and information sources evenly or equally. The data from Chatter Matters gives us a look at some of these unexpected variances. 

When it comes to word of mouth, Americans don’t trust information sources evenly or equally. #ChatterMatters Click To Tweet

How do we distribute trust? 

It’s different for each of us. The way you distribute trust isn’t the way I distribute trust. Now, in general, we place more credibility into word of mouth from our offline circle of family, friends and associates. But our unique circumstances can majorly impact how we trust information sources. For example, failed relationships can produce hurt feelings and bad outcomes. They can also imperil word of mouth.

Here’s what I mean: 66% of Americans would trust an anonymous online review more than they would trust a product or service recommendation from an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. This fact speaks to the power of recommendations.

In most cases, a reader doesn’t know the people he or she is listening to on TripAdvisor, Angie’s List or Rotten Tomatoes. But we all make buying decisions based on those recommendations. We’ve mutually agreed that reviews and recommendations have merit. We trust our fellow citizens a lot, unless they’re our ex… then we don’t trust them much at all.

66% of Americans would trust an anonymous online review more than they would trust a product or service recommendation from an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. #ChatterMatters Click To Tweet

We studied other variables that affect word of mouth and trust.

Your age and gender influence who and how you trust. Here’s another example: Until age 40, Americans trust people their parents’ age and older. Once we cross the 40-year-old threshold, we begin to trust people our own age. This lasts until age 60, when we start to trust the opinions of people who are our children’s age.

Until age 40, Americans trust people their parents’ age and older. Once we turn 40, we begin to trust people our own age. #ChatterMatters Click To Tweet

In addition to the age-based word of mouth trust cycle, there is a gender-related trust cycle, too. Women are 24% less likely to trust people their own age, and men are 116% less likely to trust people the same age as their parents.

Women are 24% less likely to trust people their own age, and men are 116% less likely to trust people the same age as their parents. #ChatterMatters Click To Tweet

Here’s the question: As a business, how do you build trust—your most important business asset—if it’s such a finicky asset to build? 

You can do it by creating a talk trigger—a strategic, operational differentiator that compels word of mouth. The data from Chatter Matters shows us how hard it is to gain trust from 100% of the people you’ll do business with. This is why your talk trigger must be relevant, repeatable, and above all else, consistent. It can’t be a gimmick or a surprise-and-delight tactic. It needs to be something every one of your customers can experience. Consistency builds trust and inconsistency has the potential to create contempt among your customer. As Jake Sorofman, a vice president at the Gartner, noted: “in the game of customer experience… consistency will always trump delight.”

I couldn’t agree more. 

Download the complete Chatter Matters report, the most recent word of mouth research available to marketers. My new book, Talk Triggers, co-authored with Daniel Lemin, is available on Amazon.

Chatter Matters is a proprietary word-of-mouth report produced by Convince & Convert Consulting and the research firm, Audience Audit. It examines the word-of-mouth attitudes of 1,001 randomly selected Americans. The margin of error is approximately +/- 3.1%. Chatter Matters is a companion piece to the new book, Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word-of-Mouth. Talk Triggers was co-authored by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin. 

Chatter Matters: The 2018 Word of Mouth Report

What influences how people shop, buy and even vote? Our 2018 Chatter Matters Word of Mouth report studied 1,001 people to learn how they make decisions. You can get the entire report - for free - sent right to your email.

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