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 Covering Your Bases with an Integrated Approach to Social Media Marketing and Customer Service

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011


Whether your business is prepared to handle customer service questions via your social networking sites or not, the day will come probably sooner than later—when people will start reaching out to you there—expecting timely responses. If you haven’t started to integrate social media and customer service you might be surprised to learn that for the most part you already have the tools you need right at your disposal. You may just need to be thinking about using them a little differently.

Heidi Cohen writes in the post, How to Integrate Customer Service into Social Media Marketing, “Social media has changed customer service from being a support function to being an extension of marketing. In the social media ecosystem, customers want to know that you’re listening and responding.”

Heidi identifies 12 Ways that Social Media Enhances Customer Service and extends your marketing efforts:

1. Gives business a human face
2. Listens to what customers are saying
3. Proactively engages with prospects and customers
4. Provides additional product-related content
5. Answers product-related questions
6. Supplies alternative contact channel
7. Gives customers a channel to talk to each other
8. Shares customer feedback
9. Celebrates your customers
10. Shows customers behind the scenes
11. Makes special offers
12. Create new purchase options

Tools for Listening and Responding
How are businesses going about listening and responding? Through recent conversations with representatives from over twenty businesses, Twitter and Facebook were mentioned repeatedly as reliable tools for both listening and responding. Other tools referred to included LinkedIn groups, blog comments, community forums, Google alerts, Social Mention, BackType and Disqus. Several businesses were using dedicated social CRM products–Nimble, Get Satisfaction and MeasuredUp.

Types of Problems and Queries
Businesses are also finding that the types of problems and queries being made through social media runs a wide spectrum from broken web links, service requests, pricing and location questions, customer feedback, general FAQ about services to dissatisfied customers who don’t know where else to turn to communicate with the company and are looking for an immediate response.

Importance of Responses
Listening and responding is one part of the equation but certainly not the whole picture. Businesses need to have processes in place for everyone who speaks on behalf of the brand–even the CEO! Take for example the recent fiasco with Kenneth Cole on Twitter where he used the #Cairo hashtag that had been employed by Twitter users to denote discussion of current events in Egypt to advertise Cole’s spring collection. Not only was the tweet considered insensitive and in extremely poor taste, “it also went against an unofficial but generally observed policy for the use of hashtags on Twitter. The site’s help center page about hashtags notes that they should be used only on Tweets relevant to the topic.” Business leaders and their company representatives should make sure they know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable communications because everything today is not only public but also permanent. What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter.

Human Resources
Businesses are finding too that they need to have dedicated resources to staff their social media presences to field questions and comments. Here’s how businesses are approaching staffing solutions:

Jon Stein, CEO of, says “Everyone in our office, all the way up to the CEO, is monitoring our social media channels. Its that important because if someone posts a message on our Facebook wall and we don’t respond–we not only miss an opportunity with that customer, but we also send an implicit message to all of our customers that we are not responsive to their needs.”

Michelle Judd at Ergotron says, “Right now we have two people from our Technical services team monitoring the forum and three people monitoring Twitter. One person monitors Facebook, although we have seen very few customer questions through Facebook. Our CSRs manage email, chat and phone calls.”

Lindsey Olsen at Evil Controllers says, “We have one person logged on Facebook at all times during the day ready to respond, as well as another person monitoring Twitter at all times as well. Both specialists spend the entirety of their day focusing on response, and reaching out via social media.”

Stephanie Bullis at says, “We have a social media coordinator that monitors all our social platforms and alerts the appropriate people within the company when action needs to be taken in reaching out to specific customers.”

Community Managers

An important new job function at businesses too is the role of the Community Manager. According to GetSatisfaction the Community Manager is a “jack of all trades and master of many…the only way to accurately reflect their contribution would be to understand that they work at the very edge of your organization, the place where the line between company and customer is blurriest and their job is to understand, manage and stimulate the collective passions of your customers in a way that creates value for both company and customer.” Marc Karasu, CEO at MeasuredUp says “Businesses should consider a blended approach to digital customer service and online reputation management.” Jon Ferrara, CEO at Nimble says, “With the advent of social media, the way we communicate with each other has changed, yet business needs stay the same. Now more than ever before, community managers are driving business success—traditional relationship building models need to expand to include social channels.”

Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group describes the Community Manager as the backbone of customer service in today’s modern online marketplace. He says, “As the Community Manager role continues to grow into a key piece of the customer experience lifecycle, remember to approach this space with humility and patience to teach internal stakeholders the value of the role.”

Read the rest of the article here

 iPhone Photo App Empowers Shoppers With A Mobile ‘Hotline’ this Holiday Season

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 free iPhone App allows shoppers to instantly and directly report long lines, poor customer service or incorrect prices with photos while actively shopping

NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Just in time for the Holiday Shopping Season, the leading customer service resolution and online reputation social media website, is releasing its new, free photo shopping application named the “MeasuredUp Hotline” for the popular iPhone, available at MeasuredUp Hotline App and the iTunes Store or on your iPhone App Store. A picture is worth a thousand words and the new “Hotline” photo app allows consumers to instantly report shopping experiences and complaints like long lines, incorrect prices or messy stores directly to the businesses management with photos from the iPhone.

(Photo: )

The “Hotline” allows customers a new, immediate and effective way to report on the shopping experience so that business owners can respond to their customers and improve their customer service reputation, consumer loyalty and shopping experience.

“The Hotline App means consumers are ready for any shopping situation and can make sure they receive great Customer Service,” said founder Marc Karasu. “No one should go shopping without this app.”

How The Hotline App Works

“The Hotline app allows shoppers to report a problem, complaint or issue in seconds by including a short title, rating, photo and optional review from their iPhone which is connected to the website where it is seen by partner businesses. Thousands of National chain stores and small local businesses already use the MeasuredUp website Business Tools to track, fix and build their Customer Service and Online Reputation.

Whether it is alerting a Business owner to open more checkout lines, adjust an incorrect price on a product, clean up a messy aisle or any number of customer observations now a Business Owner can improve the store and shopping experience and keep their retail customers happy by replying directly to specific “Hotline” reports fast.

About is the leading Customer Service Resolution social media website site where consumers rate and review their customer service experiences. Thousands of Partner Businesses use MeasuredUp everyday to reply to customers, build customer service brand and manage online reputation. Hundreds of thousands of consumers use MeasuredUp to make their voice heard and get answers directly from Businesses.

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 Importance of Online Customer Service and Reputation Management

Friday, June 11th, 2010

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Whether you are at an established company or at a startup the pressure on you as a marketer to deliver is immense.  To make matters more challenging it is likely that your marketing budget has been cut.  Every dollar you spend is questioned for ROI and in most meetings you are asked about developments in social networking, customer service and online reputation management because it is in the press and tantalizingly promises high return at low cost.

Whatever category your business is in, online customer service and reputation management are marketing tactics you should be employing that compliment almost any brand at very little cost.

Customer Service

In today’s economy no single thing matters as much for your sales and loyalty as building a great customer service brand.  This is an area of marketing often overlooked or muddled with expensive and hard to use tools.   If you are even aware of your customer service problem it is likely you first came across it the way most consumers do by finding a review about your company online on a search engine.

Online reviews are here to stay and many current and potential customers use internet search engines to help guide their online research in deciding where to buy.  You can leverage the world of online consumer reviews in your favor and often have more impact on thousands of active consumers’ purchasing intent then the best TV commercial.

Whether you have a large customer service department or none at all, already have a good customer service reputation or need to build one, many new online customer service tools exist today that are often free or low cost.

What You Can Do Now to Improve Customer Service and Reputation

Start asking your top customers to review you on customer service sites like or  By confidently asking top customers for customer service reviews you will have dozens of complimentary reviews of your company online in no time.   These will negate most bad reviews, increase your ranking on search engines and help interested potential customers to find and trust you when researching online.  The goal is not to have only good reviews as even the best companies have some bad reviews about them online.  The goal is to have a balance and to demonstrate through association that your brand is focused on improving customer service.

Online Comments

Individuals are talking about you on the Internet whether you like it or not.  On thousands of personal sites, as well as Facebook and Twitter, content that mentions you or a competitor is constantly being added.  You need to join this conversation even if you can’t control it.

What You Can Do Now to Respond to Online Comments

Identify a person on your staff to spend about 5 hours a week searching for unflattering reviews or mentions about your company or articles about something that is relevant to your business.  When there is a comment field have them write some intelligent and helpful content in response.  State that they are an employee of the company and include a URL to your site.  Do not try and pretend to be a consumer as this will likely be found out and create further uncomplimentary content.  This effort will help rebut negative views, show your company cares about its reputation and will help drive traffic to your company website.  If you come across compliments add on a quick “Thank You” comment and that you care about your reputation and appreciate the support of customers.

This tactic is focused totally on trolling Facebook, Twitter and Blogs to “invite” connections with current and potential customers.  This is a hard position to measure effectiveness on but you have to consider this proactive marketing.  The opportunity cost saved is that you don’t have uncontrolled rumors online.  Many PR firms are starting to offer this service but the fact is they don’t really get it and won’t be able to react as quickly as someone in your company culture who understands your brand.

With these two easy and inexpensive marketing tactics you can quickly augment your existing marketing efforts and start to raise your company’s social media presence, customer service and online profile while helping increase sales and build online reputation.

These tactics should be factored into your budget as the cost of doing business if you want to compete in today’s interconnected digital world.

About the author: Marc Karasu is a senior marketing executive and digital marketing expert with 20 years experience.  He is also the founder of, the leader in online customer service and reputation management. He can be reached at or his marketing consulting website

 MeasuredUp featured in

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

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 Manage Your Online Reputation

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

MeasuredUp featured in article about Customer Service.

Your customers are likely talking about you online. One disgruntled customer can sway your online reputation and the way your company appears on search engine results.

Proactively manage your online reputation and engage good customers to write online reviews on your website by offering discounts, use counter card instore reminders that you value customer service and reach out to authors of unflattering reviews. New good reviews will help counter bad ones and improve your online reputation.

Thanks to: Marc Karasu of
Read the article here:

 Marchex Builds On Small Business Marketing Leadership through Multi-year Relationship with Dow Jones Local Media Group to Sell Reputation Management Product; Adds Four New Content Sources

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

June 09, 2010 09:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time 

New partner to sell Marchex Reputation Management to local business customers; Marchex to receive unique content, increase local business listings data footprint to nearly half-a-billion items

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Marchex, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCHX), a call advertising and small business marketing company, today announced that it has entered into a relationship with Dow Jones Local Media Group, a Dow Jones company focused on publishing information for local communities. The relationship involves two key elements:

“Companies must be able to ensure the information about them in the digital world is accurate. And they need a product that provides them with an intelligent, dynamic feedback loop so they can be up-to-date regarding customer feedback from reviews, blog mentions and across social media.”

(1) Marchex will provide Dow Jones Local Media Group with a private-labeled version of the Marchex Reputation Management product, which it will sell to its small business customers on a monthly subscription basis and/or bundled with other Dow Jones Local Media Group product offerings; and
(2) Marchex will continue to receive unique content and information from Dow Jones Local Media Group as well as from other new content partners, including CitySquares, Joy of Spa and Measured Up, for inclusion in Marchex Reputation Management, which will benefit users by broadening the local business listing meta-data footprint of the product to nearly half-a-billion items (e.g., user reviews, listings, mentions on blogs and social media).

“Reputation management is a critical tool to help small businesses be more efficient and competitive in business. We strive to offer our advertisers the most cutting-edge and effective solutions for their needs, and as the market leader, Marchex Reputation Management fits that bill,” said Patrick Mullen, product manager for interactive marketing services at Dow Jones Local Media Group. “Companies must be able to ensure the information about them in the digital world is accurate. And they need a product that provides them with an intelligent, dynamic feedback loop so they can be up-to-date regarding customer feedback from reviews, blog mentions and across social media.”

As user-generated reviews continue to become more prevalent with consumers, local businesses are seeking ways to leverage this opportunity to ensure their online reputations are both preserved and enhanced. Marchex’s Reputation Management product enables small businesses to easily understand, manage and improve their online reputation, allowing them to expand product offerings, build loyalty with customers and generate more revenue.

Reputation Management Market:

According to a new BIA/Kelsey local advertising forecast, the E-mail, Reputation and Presence Management (ERPM) category is expected to grow from $460 million in 2008 to $3.1 billion in 2013. Additionally, the number of SMBs using ERPM will increase from approximately 500,000 to nearly 4 million during the forecast period.

Marchex Reputation Management Product

Marchex Reputation Management is the first major extension of Marchex’s small business marketing products, expanding the Marchex footprint beyond full-service search engine marketing to include comprehensive sentiment analytics.

Marchex Reputation Management was built using proprietary local search technology. Covering more than 8,000 sources and containing nearly half-a-billion pieces of local business listings meta-data, the product monitors and reports on a specific business’ online footprint, including its user reviews and news, blog and social media mentions and activities, providing small businesses with an unparalleled information advantage and a 360-degree view of customer sentiment and industry trends. Key product features include:

  • Alerts: E-mail alerts allow business customers to be notified when online information about their company—or competition—is added or changed.
  • Broadcast: Business customers can share positive news and reviews with customers and employees through a variety of sources, including email, Digg, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Competitive Marketing Analysis: Business customers can compare themselves to other local businesses in a variety of ways while including different measures, applying graphs and easy-to-grasp visuals.
  • Reviews and Mentions: Information is provided on positive and negative sentiment from customer reviews, as well as intelligence on sentiment trends.
  • Search Keyword Identification: Top terms and phrases from consumer reviews are identified to differentiate the business.

“For a small business, time is at a huge premium. This reputation management product provides an easy, quick way to find out what people are saying about my company without having to click through to a dozen or more different sites,” said Craig Abplanalp, vice president of Seattle-based custom home theater and audio firm, Definitive Audio. “There’s one dashboard, so you don’t have to do a lot of work to find out the good, the bad and the ugly, and in turn to decide what to do about it from a business perspective.”

“Understanding the digital footprint and customer sentiment is a critical component of local advertising that businesses cannot afford to ignore,” said Brooks McMahon, senior vice president of small business marketing products at Marchex. “Our Reputation Management product gives businesses the opportunity to efficiently monitor these elements and the intelligence to help them prioritize customer-focused activities and marketing efforts to grow their business.”Marche

 FuelNet’s five worst companies for customer service [and what MeasuredUp is doing about it]

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

From Business Management Daily

“ Here, in no particular order, are the five companies that have consistently failed to deliver quality customer service — along with examples of smaller businesses that do it right.

  1. Bank of America 

    Sample opinion: “If a situation has arisen that you need their help to resolve, forget it — they do not help. They are all about making money, and they seem to forget that without the customers, there will be no money to make,” wrote “Unhappy” on, a consumer feedback and review site.

    The lesson: Making it difficult for customers to do business with you — and charging them money for the “pleasure” — is the opposite of great service. “Great service companies make it easy to do business with them,” Tschohl notes.At Umpqua Bank, in Roseburg, Ore., employees are trained to be “universal associates,” so they never have to pass the buck when attending to customer needs. Many branches have Internet cafés that serve the bank’s own brand of coffee, and tellers hand out chocolate with every receipt. Moreover, bowls of water are set outside for customers’ pets. At TD Bank, in Philadelphia, customer calls are answered by an attentive, knowledgeable staff person after one ring. “You call most banks and it’s push two, push four, push seven, go to hell,” Tschohl notes.

    Role models:

    Greatest sins: Customers at and other sites rail against BoA’s myriad fees and a bureaucracy that makes even the simplest transactions difficult. Representative Maxine Waters of California, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, recently got put on hold for two hours while trying to resolve an issue with BoA for one of her constituents.

  2. Comcast 

    Sample opinion: “I have never received such horribly incompetent, could-care-less service as I have with Comcast,” wrote “Shabo L” on, an online review site.

    The lesson: Don’t keep your customers waiting, ever. “Every employee should be empowered to make a decision on the spot in favor of the customer — not a day later, not an hour later, but in seconds,” Tschohl says.

    Role model: Northeast Delta Dental, based in Concord, N.H., reimbursed customers more than $80,000 in self-imposed penalties in 2008 for not meeting its own service guarantee. It’s no coincidence the company has a whopping 60 percent market share in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont — and a 98 percent retention rate. “We turn ourselves in, and we tell our customers what we’re going to do, process-wise, so that failure doesn’t happen again,” says Northeast Delta Dental CEO Tom Raffio. “It costs us in the short run, but in the long run, it builds trust — and we get customers for life.”

    Greatest sins: Sluggish service and lame response to customers’ needs earned Comcast a score of 54 in 2008 — one of the lowest among all companies — on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a standard developed by the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan Business School. A famous online video shows a Comcast technician who fell asleep on a customer’s couch while waiting on hold — with Comcast. “They have unlimited marketing budgets to get new customers because they get rid of their old ones so fast,” Tschohl says.

  3. eBayGreatest sins:

    Sample opinion:

    The lesson:

    Role model:

    What really irks customers of the online auction site are the fees it charges and the total inaccessibility of human staff. “They don’t allow you to talk to a human,” Tschohl points out. “There’s no way to communicate with them. eBay thinks they’re in the technology business, while companies like understand they’re in the service business.”“It took me three days to find a phone number [for eBay customer service],” wrote one customer on the company’s own forum. “Don’t expect results. It’s worse than trying to get an honest answer out of a politician.”Be there for your customers. Great service is about supporting your customers every step of the way.Les Schwab, a chain of tire stores in the western U.S., has a “Sudden Service” philosophy that states, “You come in, we come running.” Employees run out to customers’ cars as they pull in to the store, then spring into action to install new tires in half the time it takes the competition.

  4. Wal-MartGreatest sins:

    The lesson: Creating a culture of great service starts with treating employees well. “Take care of your workers, and your workers take care of your customers,” Yellin explains.

    Role models: Northeast Delta Dental and Umpqua Bank frequently appear on lists of best workplaces thanks to their outstanding employee benefits, and Les Schwab shares half its profits with its employees. “It’s a matter of treating your employees better than anybody else does and offering world-class customer service,” explains a manager of a Les Schwab Store in Concord, Calif. “That is what keeps your business growing.”

    Underpaid, disempowered Wal-Mart employees have a tough time staying chipper these days — and they pass along their misery to the company’s customers. “Wal-Mart built its business on customer service, but they’re in the sink now,” Tschohl contends. “The stores are ugly, and they attract the people with the least amount of money who are willing to put up with bad service.” Adds David VanAmburg, managing director of the American Customer Satisfaction Index: “They are at the top of our list when it comes to value, but near the bottom when it comes to service.”Sample opinion: “The employees are rude most of the time, and none of them help when you ask them something,” wrote “Amber” at “I spend $300 a week in that store. Now they have lost my business.”

  5. US AirwaysGreatest sins: Long delays, surly service, and a lack of personality have helped send this airline to the bottom of the list of companies tracked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index — though the extra fees don’t help, either. “This industry has the lowest scores on our list, and US Airways is at the bottom,” VanAmburg says.

    Sample opinion: “Figure out a way to communicate with customers that doesn’t involve hold times approaching geological epochs, and make your damn computers work correctly,” opined blogger Christopher S. Penn after he was told it would take 45 to 60 days for US Airways to respond to his email request for a refund.

    The lesson: The best service companies are fast, reliable, friendly, and don’t skimp on the little details.

    Role model: Insight Studios, a tattoo and piercing parlor in Chicago, averages five stars from reviewers on, who praise the store for being pleasant and clean, and for offering customers horchata and chocolate when they walk in the door (and a lollipop for their bravery after their treatment is done). You’d never know these folks were paying to get poked. As one happy customer gushed, “I can’t wait to come back in a few months for my next piercing!”

The Road to Customer Satisfaction

Because bad reviews on the Internet can be so damaging, companies are starting to get savvy. In response to its poor reputation, for example, Comcast has installed a team dedicated to scouring the Web for complaints and reaching out to the “influencers” in its customer ranks. And Bank of America now has a team of support employees who can be reached via Twitter. “The Internet is making everybody more accountable,” author Emily Yellin points out. “Companies can’t get away with what they used to.” Growing businesses are wise to stay abreast of their reputation on sites like Yelp, and they can also get customer feedback through such sites as and Those two sites not only host online forums for customers to make suggestions or register complaints, they also allow companies to respond to commonly asked questions and create a knowledge base for future customers.’

Click here to read the full article.

 Don’t underestimate the power of the customer when building your brand.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009 


By Don Morgan 

Last week, I attended a webinar titled “Brand Building in a Digital Age”. I was expecting a “how-to” seminar on incorporating social media and other new technology tools as part of the marketing mix. As it turned out, the webinar was more about the power of the customer and the importance of good customer service in an era of instant access to millions of potential customers via the Internet. But that’s okay, because the webinar did give me some new insights and appreciation for the importance of doing and saying the right things with customers.So what does that say about retailers who loudly proclaim their “once-in-a-lifetime” sale that happens again next week? And again the following week? Are you listening department stores? Or what about the automobile dealers, mortgage companies and all the other advertisers who trumpet their incentives and hide behind the fine print. The old-fashioned notion of caveat emptor (buyer beware) has been replaced by seller beware that you don’t ruin your brand and your business in a blind quest for profit because your customers will tell the truth to the world.The rapid growth of customer review sites like Yelp and Angies List and the emergence of customer feedback sites like Measuredup and Planetfeedback should be enough for marketers to wake up and smell that coffee.The customer is not only in charge, they are in the driver’s seat.

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 See our company Measuredup featured and vote for us

Monday, January 14th, 2008

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 Reviews Roll In As Sites Add Video

Monday, January 14th, 2008

News Analysis: Reviews Roll In As Sites Add Video

Amazon, Orvis, PetCo jump on next wave of customer feedback.
January 14, 2008
By Kenneth Hein

The written word may be powerful, but video is mightier still, and there’s the rub for marketers.

As Amazon, Orvis and PetCo encourage consumers to upload video reviews, the marketers give the public a dynamic tool to tout or trash products.

Before a fan plunks down $69.95 for the Hasbro Star Wars Darth Vader Voice Changer, for example, they may want to watch the video review posted by Gregory J. Daniel on “This is an example of what the Darth Vader helmet will sound like when you make the mistake of buying it. Don’t I sound just like Darth? Can you even hear his voice, or is it just like a droning in the background.”

Amazon has no issue with such reviews. “Written reviews have been tremendously successful, but when you can actually see the item in action all the writing in the world [can't compare],” said Colin Bodell, vp,, Seattle, which added video in November. “We want to deliver a richer shopping experience and give them as much information as possible so it will lead to a more satisfying shopping experience.”

While a video review for a book may not be necessary, Bodell said they were particularly helpful for new toys like the latest Tickle Me Elmo or complicated consumer electronics devices.

For Orvis, a video of a customer catching a trophy fish using its Zero G Saltwater 909-4 fly rod speaks volumes. “It’s another reason for people to come to our site,” says Brad Wolansky, vp-eCommerce for the Sunderland, Vt., firm. “They want to engage with us and brag about their fish. Of course, we like to see them stay on our site longer—we like video for all those reasons. We also like the fact that it can make a customer feel good about their purchase decision. That’s the root of customer reviews, making them feel more secure.” Orvis added video in August.

Video consumer reviews are still new, very new. They make up only a small fraction of Amazon and Orvis reviews. But, this is expected to change quickly as more consumers embrace video and more marketers offer reviews on their sites (See “New Ideas,” page 10). Video phones and the simplicity of some of today’s desktop applications make creating video “less of an event,” said Marc Karasu, president of, New York. Karasu left his post as vp-marketing of to quarterback The site encourages consumers to sound off about good and bad products and customer service. Next month, the site is relaunching with video capabilities.

Video is a natural for consumers under 30, as they are heavy users of such sites as YouTube, he said. Video can be powerful “if you are shooting secret footage of an outrageous customer service experience,” Karasu said. However, “if it’s someone standing front of a store talking about what happened,” not so much.

Video is currently only about 1% of all reviews, according to Sam Decker, CMO of Bazaarvoice, the ratings and reviews service that created Orvis and PetCo’s consumer review section, based in Austin, Texas. However, Web sites can leverage this small pool of video reviews for a larger impact. Sections can be created showing the top-10 video reviews. Consumers can also be connected directly to the videos via e-mail links and RSS feeds.

In this respect videos not only offer a valuable opinion, but also entertainment value. “We’ve had other people linking to our site to watch the videos, there is always that entertainment opportunity,” said Bodell. “We look forward to more content as it gets easier to put video up there. It will also be better produced once the technology gets better and high-speed connections continue to become more prevalent. People will find creative ways of using it that we haven’t even envisioned yet.” Authors reading chapters of their books and explanations behind their writing is starting to appear on Amazon. Brands are also invited to post product demonstrations, as well, said Bodell. However, “they can’t be blatant advertisements,” he said. “They can buy ad placements.” Amazon weighs each submission based on its value to buyers in aiding their purchase decision.

Does this start to blur the lines of marketing? Probably, said Seth Godin, author of the new book Meatball Sundae. “If it is clearly labeled as to who is producing the video, call them what you want. ‘What is advertising?’ is a question we ask every day.”

Regardless, video is “a logical, predictable next step in the evolution of consumer reviews,” said Godin. Still, there are benefits to the written word. “Video is a lot less casual. You can spend 30 seconds writing a few sentences, video is more of a commitment,” he said. “Plus you can scan a whole page of written reviews, but you’re not going to watch a whole page of videos.”

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