Amazon, Epinions, and Yelp were pioneers of the user feedback and rating movement. A recent “Review Boom” lead to dozens of new feedback platforms, rating scales, and opinion forums. Consumers can’t determine the best source for reliable content, let alone understand how the different rating systems work. To become a trusted-source of information you must know where your voice will be heard. If you leave a review where nobody will see it, does anyone care what you think?
There are only a handful of sites that will help you reach a large and diverse audience. Many review sites are merely aggregators that pull content from affiliate websites and use strategic partnerships to provide visitors with user-generated feedback collected from a variety of online platforms. Start with the most prominent platforms then re-post your material on 2-3 smaller sites that may reach a different audience. A carefully crafted, constructive review is more valuable than a handful of generic posts that offer no substance.
The list below is separated into three tiers that will help prioritize your efforts, build credibility, and monitor how your social influence impacts the community. Tier I reaches the largest audiences and your content will be broadcast across the web through affiliate sites and other feeds. Tier II includes content aggregators, sites that reach smaller audiences, and platforms that are overlooked because their primary focus is not reviews or user-generated feedback. Lastly, Tier III lists niche pages that cater to a specific audience, such as service providers, restaurants-only, or traveler planners.
20 User-Generated Review and Rating Sites You Need To Expand Your Influence:
- Google Local – create a profile on Google+ so your page is displayed on the SERP next to your reviews. Let’s not start about the SEO benefits that stem from being an active user within the Google community (Google+, maps, etc)
- Yelp – it’s more than just reviews. Check-in at your favorite locations, mark reviews as “funny” or “cool” to interact with other Yelpers, “like” other user’s activity to stay visible under ‘Recent Activity’.
- Amazon.com – participate in the largest collection of reviews, make wish lists, and mark “useful” reviews from other members.
- Foursquare – often overlooked, yet very easy to utilize. Post tips when you check-in (include recommendations, advice for newcomers, or fun facts) and don’t forget to note the tips you’ve completed at each check-in.
- Facebook – most feedback posted to company and brand pages is visible to less than 20% of your friends, but companies and brands take notice. Tag pages, leave comments, and “like” content. “Likes” are a sign of approval and the equivalent of a positive review in Facebook World. Your friends, friends of friends, and others see comments you leave and posts you “like”.
- Citysearch.com – one of many sites similar to Yelp, yet reaches a smaller audience with a very simple feedback form and rating system that compares total up/down votes to offer the percentage of CitySearch members that recommend a particular business.
- Bing Local – see “Google Local” with smaller market share.
- Yahoo! Local – ditto
- Epinions.com – site includes reviews but links consumers to online retailers that offer the product. Users do not complete transactions on the Epinions website.
- MerchantCircle – business listings, similar to Yellowpages, with an element that encourages users to provide a basic review of the business.
- LinkedIn – in addition to personal recommendations, company pages allow users to comment on “Recent Updates” and recommend items that companies include under “Products”.
- Judy’s Book
- RipoffReport.com – an alternative to legal action, RipOffReport is a public record of company complaints that can destroy a businesses reputation. Similar to the BBB, companies can respond to allegations and attempt to resolve each consumer complaint.
- Angie’s List – members pay a monthly fee to access reviews. Only members can post feedback. Meaningful content and more accountability make Angie’s list a reliable for reviews.
- Zagat.com – the gold standard for restaurant ratings.
- TripAdvisor.com – the gold standard for travel and accommodations feedback.
Don’t post on RipOffReport every time you have a bad consumer experience. It happens. Plus, it’s just as easy to damage your own reputation if you’re quick to post complaints. Nobody likes a cynic who never has anything positive to say. People are quick to post their negative experiences and overlook the routine displays of exceptional service and professionalism they encounter on a daily basis. I follow a “3-1 Rule” – offer 3 positive reviews for every substandard review. My 3-1 Rule also helps me stay positive throughout the day.
Reviews and user-generated feedback are an essential component of your social influence. Celebrity status is not achieved overnight but establishing a solid presence on each Tier 1 site, combined with an effective social media strategy, will expand your social influence exponentially after just a few weeks. Within a couple months you’ll have more influence than Joan Rivers at a red carpet fashion special!