Well, several actually. It could be LinkedIn, or Twitter, or Facebook, or Amazon for books or TripAdvisor for holidays and…and…the list goes on.
But does it work? According to MediaLab it does: a recommendation from a friend would make people 71% ‘more comfortable’ with a product or service – even more so than their own past experience (63%) and far more so than advertising (15%).
So there’s a pretty strong message coming through here.
The big question is: how do I do it to promote my brand?
The answer is that in most cases you don’t. This vast consumer forum is not there to be hijacked – attempts to do so have been beaten off by the massed voices of consumer outrage at being ‘sold to’, or by indifference.
Sony tried it with their T68i camera phone launch. Customers realised they were using actors to give testimonials, and they were consequently lambasted in every possible quarter. The launch was not a success.
But do it honestly and openly, and the opposite can happen: Abercrombie and Fitch courted negative buzz, with some dodgy racist comments on T-shirts (eg Wong brothers laundry service: two Wongs can make it white), which they then sent-up online. Because they were seen to be talking about it, and this was congruent with the brand, customers loved it, and the products sold by the truckfull!
The answer therefore is to be honest. Be honest with your customers, congruent with your brand, and sincere in what you say. Contrary to what many people will tell you, you don’t have to be clever, or pull a stunt or try to impress people with your creativity. Just be there. The people will do the rest. By being there you become part of the discussion. You can’t tell where it will go, or what the outcome will be. But be there. Join in. Be honest. And see ‘word-of-mouth’ get going!