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When that new restaurant opened in your neighborhood, chances are you went to Yelp to see the food ratings by customers. Before choosing a hotel room, you probably visited TripAdvisor. When you considered installing that new deck, you likely visited Angie's List or Porch.

And why wouldn't you? After all, we now live and work in the Testimonial Economy.

Your company's best customers—and potential customers—do exactly the same thing: look for reviews and testimonial about your product or offering... as well as your competition's.

What We Say About Ourselves Doesn't Matter

In the Social Age, people have learned to stop paying attention to marketing or selling. They've learned what a company says about itself carries little weight. In fact, when a business talks about itself too often, it's labeled a self-promoter and spammer.

To avoid companies that employ digital versions of used-car-salesman techniques, potential customers instead rely on objective reviews and comments they find online—and not just on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie's List. They look at reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Google Reviews. And when they can't find the answers they need to make a good buying decision, they reach out to contacts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and so much more.

What they find there becomes the foundation of their customer journey: Good reviews make the buying decision easy; bad reviews often override even the best marketing plan and the most strategic sales plan.

Digital Word-of-Mouth

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image of Mark Babbitt

Mark Babbitt is the CEO and founder of YouTern, a social resource for young professionals, and the president of the leadership community Switch and Shift. He is also a co-author of the best-selling A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

LinkedIn: Mark Babbitt