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Information versus Opinion and Search versus Social

Information versus opinion. Whats the difference? Is there one? What matters to you when you are on the verge of buying something? What is your go to process for vetting a new product, service, or company? Does the process change depending on the type of purchase?  So here’s the scenario, I want to buy a new big screen TV. So I do research. My research consists of what?

A) Typing in “big screen TV’s in Google

B) Typing in a specific brand into Google

C) Going into a social network and letting 500 of my most intimate friends know that I’m thinking of buying a TV

D) Going to Yelp

E) Going to Google and typing in “product review sites” into the search box because Yelp didn’t work.

F) Going into a forum and looking up the product name to see what others have to say

G) Asking my neighbor, my co-worker, my college roommate, or the father of my son’s best friend.

H) All of the above

Some of you probably would do all of the above. I see a problem with every single option above with the exception of option G. Here’s why.

Option A)  is probably the most confusing. Why? Simply because a lot of consumers do not know what types of web results they are looking at. They don’t understand what can be bought, i.e. PPC versus a gamed organic result. Either way, the consumer may be in for a lot of hard work trying to find some information-thus this may be a case where they decide to forgo doing research and just go straight to Best Buy and get the deal.

B) Typing in a brand name lends itself to resellers bombarding you with “their” deal. At the least, when has doing research on a brand lent itself to a highly ranked result of a brand reporting that it’s product sucks? Not going to happen? So the results will always positively skew in their favor.

Option C)  has some potential just because more and more consumers are turning to social media for help with purchase decisions. According to Cone Inc.’s recent research,  consumers are seeking out product information and reviews; they’re interested in both the good and the bad since 80 percent of respondents look at negative comments and 87 percent of respondents look at positive comments with the biggest growth area for purchasing decision information being blogs. The only problem? Blogs can be gamed.

D) Let’s say I never went to Yelp before, my first thought is “Oh cool, this is handy”. Next thing I know, its been 2 hours and I have not been doing any research and I realize that Yelp is not the site for product research.

E) My first thought is, do I really want to go down this path?

F) This one has potential, provided the forum that I use has people in it that are genuine and are not cloaking themselves as regular people, but really are trying to promote their product. Don’t think that happens? Think again.

Option G) Probably my best bet, at least I get a real answer. Funny thing is, it’s not a web based derived result and decision, though the process of purchase may actually happen through the web. But then when I know what I want, finding it at the best price, is completely different than deciding what’s is the best performing brand . See the challenge foe the brand?

Look at how brands  have to compete and win against you, your friends and relatives, against gamed search, gamed social and everything else, in just trying to get a message out that says, “Hey our product is good trust us”-

Even better, the company that says “Hey our product is good, but don’t just trust us, trust the people thst bought from us-That’s the gold! But the larger question is how can a brand simplify the process of aligning it’s existing customers with potential new customers while still trying to maintain some type of objectivity thats not clouded by reward systems and incentives? Tough to do isn’t it? Are we now on the precipice of the Infopinion?

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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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