According to Forrester Research, 81% of consumers rely on online reviews when making purchasing decisions and 35% actually write product reviews.
Social networks have provided an online channel that spreads consumer opinions wider and faster than ever. Customer review sites provide an ideal platform for customers and businesses to engage.
So why are so few companies addressing online consumer review communities in their overall public relations and marketing strategies?
The answer is easy, yet executing is not. One of the most valuable and under-used social media strategies is using customer reviews to drive sales.
Our panel of experts will share their experiences developing consumer review communities and welcome your questions:
Ali De Bold (http://www.facebook.com/ali.debold), co-founder, ChickAdvisor (http://www.chickadvisor.com) Inc., a social media company for women ChickAdvisor.com features user-generated reviews across North America on popular products and local services. Categories include Beauty, Shopping, Restaurants, Wellness and Deals. They also run local events including Shop Crawls, movie nights and a Product Review Club.
Pema Hegan (http://twitter.com/pema), co-founder, GigPark.com (http://www.gigpark.com), a social networking site launched in 2008 that allows members to easily find the trusted service people their friends use and enables small business owners to amplify the good things their customers are saying about them. In August, GigPark was acquired by Canpages, the largest independent local search and directories publisher in Canada.
Brian Sharwood, president, HomeStars.com (http://homestars.com), an online directory with ratings of Home improvement companies. HomeStars was founded in 2006 by Nancy Peterson and is now the leading online home improvement resource in Canada by web traffic. Homestars has more than 31,000 consumer reviews spanning 15,000 companies across North America.
Stuart MacDonald (http://stuartmacdonald.ca/), CEO and founder, Tripharbour.ca (http://www.tripharbour.ca) and Tripharbor.com (http://www.tripharbor.com), the web’s first combined cruise community and cruise planning and buying site. The site facilitates the online cruise purchasing experience by merging e-commerce with e-community, empowering consumers to independently choose and purchase their perfect cruise holiday. Tripharbour.ca is a social media community designed for cruise enthusiasts to share and compare stories of their travels. Stuart may also be familiar to some of you as one of the co-founders of mesh, Canada’s leading web conference.
Moderator: Eden Spodek (http://twitter.com/EdenSpodek), digital strategist at iStudio, an interactive agency; founder, Bargainista.ca (http://bargainista.blogspot.com/) – a Toronto-based blog about anything and everything related to shopping, customer service, bargains and a dash of social media thrown in for good measure; and, a member of the PodCamp Toronto organizing team.
A word about the admission fee
Students are admitted free of charge. If you're a student who would like to take advantage of this, please bring your student ID as proof of status.
Thank you to our sponsors
We're grateful for the ongoing support of our Third Tuesday sponsors: CNW Group (http://www.newswire.ca), Molson Coors Canada (http://www.molsoncoorscanada.com), Rogers Communications (http://www.rogers.com), Radian6 (http://www.radian6.com) and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts (http://www.fairmont.com). Their support is allowing us to program great speakers not just in Toronto, but at Third Tuesday across Canada.