unlimited power!

One of my favourite internet meme:

The Star Wars wiki is awesome. Check it out.

UNLIMITED POWER!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiCznGaex2c

Okay, there is a strong relevance to this post.
In that movie the balance of power of the light side and the dark side becomes strangely disturbed.
A similar tipping of the balance of power between consumers and the big corporations happened a few years back. That is of course only possible with the advent of web 2.0.
No longer do the big corporations, with their big wallets, push ideas and concepts into the consumers’ minds through advertising. The ball is now in our courts (so to speak). Let’s not fumble or turn it over.

Web 2.0 enables users to create and edit content. Things such as blogs, comments, and product reviews were born. These and many more, combine to give the consumers the power to express their opinions about the big corp’s products.

Think about it, when you make a big purchase decision, how would you gather your information?
Often our search for information about our purchase is a mixture of online search, close friends’/relatives’ recommendations and opinions, information from advertisement, and what is readily available at the store.
But back in the days, online search wasn’t an option. Especially those handy dandy customer review websites. Or those blogs about the product you’re looking at.

Yea, now we can form our own opinions about the products. Companies that make inferior products will be exposed extremely quickly through the blogosphere and customer reviews.

Consumers now can take advantage of this technology to make more informed choices.
But this is also advantageous for the big corps.

First thing is transparency.
To avoid negative stigma, being transparent with communication is key.
Remember back a few years there was a scandal about manufacturers of certain electronics hiring people to write positive (biased) reviews?
This creates distrust. Distrust is bad when these are the people buying your products and, in the end, paying your salaries.

Next, you should encourage more feedback from your customers.
Provide incentives for your customers to provide these reviews.
This adds to the perception that you’ve got nothing to hide, which will inspire more confidence in your products.

With the encouragement to provide feedback, you’ve gotta make these reviews accessible and easy-to-do. No point in having a ton of positive reviews when no one can access them. As well, if the process of posting reviews is overly convoluted, people won’t do it.

Product reviews and other web 2.0 tools can be leveraged by the consumers and companies. Use them wisely.

Writing this while having a migraine wasn’t easy.
I hope you have more fun reading it than I had writing it.

EDIT
There’s a point I failed to make during the first seating at writing this.
Consumers, do keep in mind that the reviews are usually on either extremes of the spectrum. That’s because the people motivated to take the time to write a product review are usually either extremely satisfied with their purchase or extremely dissatisfied with their purchase.
Hardly ever will you find reviews that are treading along the lines of moderation.
(Obviously you’ll bump into them on occasion)
Point is, when doing your research through product reviews take all the reviews with a grain of salt and use common sense.
If you encounter all 10/10 reviews, that means the product is very good on average.
If you see five 10/10’s and one or two 1/10, that means the product is good on the average but there are some minor flaws.
etc

Oh and do look for the reviews that point out what people don’t like and what they do like. Chances are you’ll care about one or two of those things and perhaps have to make concessions on those due to budget/technology restraints.

Moral of the story…
Consumers: don’t believe 100% word-for-word the reviews out there.
Corporations: be more transparent and encouraging with honest reviews.

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