Online Moms Redux

Not long ago I had an appliance repairperson to my house in the San Francisco Bay Area to fix my clothes dryer and, while he was at it, my dishwasher, which what stopping in the middle of cycles. I had used the Internet to find his company, however he didn’t once ask me how I got his name. So, after he was done, as he was leaving, I prompted him with, “Don’t you want to know how I found you?”

“You probably found us in the Berkeley Parents Network, right?” he very casually replied. “You’re right,” I responded, surprised. The Berkeley Parents Network (BPN) is a non-profit online community heavily used in the East Bay neighborhoods of the Bay Area. While I don’t have empirical proof of this, my anecdotal observation is that those who write and consult the reviews on the BPN site are mostly moms.

I went on to tell the appliance repair guy that I had also used Google, Yelp and InsiderPages in the process of finding him. But, in fact, BPN had been the first place I looked (after being referred there by Google). I used the other sites (e.g., Yelp) to confirm the original positive recommendation I found on the BPN site.

“That’s how we get most of our business, by word of mouth,” he said — and from the BPN site in particular. In a recent online small business survey conducted Opus Research and AllBusiness.com, 60 percent of respondents said that more than half their business comes from customer referrals and “word-of-mouth.” Online ratings and reviews or recommendations are the electronic equivalent of word-of-mouth – on steroids. Word-of-mouth has now moved from “one to one” to “one to many.”

At last week’s SMX Local & Mobile the panel “Community Driven Local Search” was one of the most lively and surprisingly controversial, with Done Right CEO Paul Ryan arguing that ratings and reviews are often inaccurate, unfair and can be “gamed.” While many of Ryan’s critiques have considerable merit, the phenomenon of “online word-of-mouth” is here to stay.

I wrote in a previous “Locals Only” column that local and social media were joined at the hip. However, when people think of local reviews or word of mouth, they often think of Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo Local, Internet yellow pages and even Facebook. Rarely do people think about parent sites or “mom networks.” This is something of a neglected but critical segment in local search and should be present in thinking about local search marketing.

The rest of this post is at SEL.

3 Responses to “Online Moms Redux”

  1. google » Online Moms Redux Says:

    […] Check it out! While looking through the blogosphere we stumbled on an interesting post today.Here’s a quick excerptNot long ago I had an appliance repairperson to my house in the San Francisco Bay Area to fix my clothes dryer and, while he was at it, my dishwasher, which what stopping in the middle of cycles. […]

  2. Word of Mouth and Social Media « Screenwerk Says:

    […] written quite a bit about social directories, online communities and word of mouth lately. Typically a large percentage of local business is driven by word of mouth […]

  3. Matthew Hunt Says:

    I really liked this piece, Greg. Traditional word-of-mouth referrals will always be a key factor in attracting new customers, whether to the latest movie or to local shops and services. You make the point that, while some are suspicious of online reviews and ratings, at their best they really to represent a vast expansion of tried-and-true word of mouth. I also like how you explain that certain demographic groups (such as “moms”) may be neglected by entrepreneurs. People of all different ages and lifestyles are now using online searching as their primary consumer research tool–not just young web junkies!

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