Authentic Marketing Using Social Media – Part 1: Customer Reviews

For the past few months I’ve been focused on the importance of being authentic online.  So many large institutions put the emphasis on their brochures and traditional marketing – this is especially true with higher education.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen these infomercials late at night that have “real” people that have made $50,000 in a week selling something, but I have a hard time believing their are not actors – even if they are real.  Why?  Its because they don’t come off as authentic.

I went to a Statmats Integrated Marketing Conference last November and Chris Brogan was a keynote speaker there.  I recall in his keynote address, he related an experience about his iPod purchase. Chris mentioned that it wasn’t all the glitzy Apple commercials that motivated him to get an iPod, it was seeing others interact with the iPod and the excitement they had when using it.  Seeing people interact and find excitement in using the iPod was real.  It was authentic!

The Role of Social Media

Have you ever purchased a book from Amazon?  I have – and I’ve put a lot of stock into their Customer Ratings & Reviews feature.

Amazon Customer Reviews

These customer reviews are an amazing way to promote a product or review and are a great example of authentic marketing using social media.  I have used similar reviews as a basis for my decision in purchasing products.

I am much more likely to purchase a product or service if I can relate to a real person or if I can learn of another person’s experience with the product or service.

Working at a higher education institution, I think there is some great possibilities for this.  What a better way to market a particular program then to have real people who have had experience in the program telling their story – unsolicited, unscripted… a real story.  I’m a graduate of the college I work at, and I would love to share my story with other considering the same program I went through.  Now, I know there are many of you out there saying, “Hold on Mike!  What about those who would have less than positive experiences to share?”  Well, that is a possibility, but that is all part of being authentic.  An article on states that out of the 81% surveyed, only 14% actually say they always trust a negative review.  Personally, if I am researching a product and it has one negative review, but several positive review, I will put more trust in the positive reviews and likely still purchase the product.

This might be a lot to soak in, but what I am suggesting is the higher education look more to the business world for great examples like customer reviews and implement them in the academia world.

Are there any higher education institutions out there that currently have Program and/or course student reviews available on their site?  If so, please add them as a comment.

Read Part 2: Video Messaging

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