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There is no longer any doubt that social media and web 2.0 have changed and improved the web. We are all more connected than ever before — and that can’t be a bad thing. However, there is one aspect of social media that is fundamentally changing the way we behave online, and requires you to change your marketing plans accordingly: constant access to a never-ending flow of information.

Our friends are our filters

The average American spends over 6 hours on Facebook every month. During this time, he or she is exposed to thousands of posts, comments and other forms of media shared by friends, family and acquaintances. In order to cope with the constant flow of information, we have developed strong filters to help our brains cope. These filters have severely decreased the effectiveness of many online marketing tactics (the use of banner ads is a good example).

One of the best ways we have of filtering is turning to the people we trust most (and who are often most similar to us) — our friends and family. The trust factor for making decisions is very important, especially for online purchase decisions. A 2011 study by Nielsen demonstrates this fact very clearly. According to the study, 92% of consumers completely trust or somewhat trust recommendations from people they know. In comparison, 53% of participants said they do not trust ads on TV and over 70% don’t trust text ads on mobile phones.

This trend makes it very clear that the way to win over consumers on the increasingly socialized Internet is by leveraging user-generated content and by embracing the “age of context.”

Social and recommendation marketing will become the base for e-commerce marketing

If we accept the notion that the web will continue to become more and more social, and that every popular web- or mobile-based service now integrates itself deeply with social, then online marketers will have no choice but to create strategies with social at their core. If social becomes the base of all marketing activities on the web, then recommendation marketing will become the dominant focus in the e-commerce space.

How can I start using recommendation marketing today?

There are a few things you can do to start using recommendation marketing now to get ahead of your competition:

Social reviews

Product reviews are incredibly important for SEO and conversion, but to get the full impact from all those reviews, they need to be shared. At Yotpo, our entire business has been built around empowering you to easily share reviews. Make sure you’re sharing any great reviews you get on your business’s social media presences, especially your Facebook page and Twitter account. That will help drive new qualified traffic, which will result in more sales.

Branding

The concept of branding hasn’t disappeared, but it seems to have become less of a focus for many businesses. Strong visual branding that is both emphasized and common in all marketing activities will help you establish a bigger presence online, which will strengthen all recommendations of your products, service or company. If you have the budget, invest in a design company who can develop your entire brand and provide you with graphics which you can continue to use for years to come.

Make it easy for others to share, then track the results

Enabling your fans to easily share their favorite products is the easiest way to start using recommendation marketing. The problem is that most businesses embed sharing buttons and forget about them. You should spend some time tracking the effectiveness of your share buttons and test different designs and layouts to find what works best.

 

The tips above are only some of the easy things you can do today to start using recommendation marketing to build your online communities, strengthen your brand and, of course, increase sales.

I would love to hear your feedback on recommendation marketing and the tips I’ve included here. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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