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Product Reviews: To Write or Not to Write?

By Rosanne Ullman February 04, 2021 Lifestyle

As I began assembling my new wall shelves, I removed a little teal tag that said: “Do you love it? Show us a photo of your style or leave a review!” It supplied the hashtag to include and ended with, “We gather inspiration from all over the world, but our favorite inspiration is YOU!”

Normally, I dismiss any plea for a product review. Instead of a cute tag on a string, the request typically comes in a follow-up email to confirmation that my purchase has been delivered. Who has time to review?

“I already bought something from these people,” I would think. “If they want me to also promote the company, they can pay me.”

I Use Product Reviews – Do You?

But I recently moved, and the new house needs everything from new bedding and a random desk chair to replacement glass for picture frames that cracked under pressure – okay, under my own foot, if we’re being specific. The only way I’ve felt confident buying so much so quickly has been to trust in users’ product reviews.

Services are the same. Suddenly, I need new medical providers, cleaning help, restaurant carryout. I’m not familiar with this area, so I rely on those who are. But I don’t know anyone personally here yet, so again I turn to online feedback.

Taker or Contributor?

I’m starting to feel like a taker who never gives back. If I use reviews, shouldn’t I write some? I appreciate the effort someone makes to not only rate a product or service but also share a specific opinion.

This is especially true for hotels and Airbnb – I would never book a place without first reading up on real people’s experiences.

Maybe it’s time to even this score.

Marketers do not call me a taker. To them, I’m a “lurker,” the term attached to those of us who read without contributing our own thoughts – and buy without leaving a review.

It’s part of the formerly well-accepted “90-9-1 rule,” coined 15 years ago by Jakob Nielsen. The rule states that 90% of online browsers are lurkers, 9% are occasional contributors and only 1% are frequent – even compulsive – contributors.

Observing a Shift

With the increased acceptance of social media, things have changed since then. While the majority of purchasers still do not Yelp publicly or share deep thoughts on Goodreads, observers of today’s online behavior present much less lopsided numbers than Nielsen did.

One reason for the shift lies in that little teal card that came with my shelves. Businesses are asking customers for reviews and making it easy for them to leave one. Leaving a review of my shelves does not require me to join a website, but just to post a few words of satisfaction on a nice picture and hashtag the brand.

I write for publications in the beauty salon industry, and I know how valuable word-of-mouth is to hairdressers and salon owners. Many report that asking is the best way to get their clients to show off their new look on Instagram, give the stylist or salon a five-star rating somewhere or recommend the business on Next Door.

Our Opinion Is Valuable!

As women over 60, we’ve tried a lot of products and services! When we purchase something new, we recognize the difference between great and merely acceptable, and we have little patience for the duds. We are the ideal reviewers!

I plan to post that photo of my shelves with a hashtag credit – and maybe show other purchases as well. And the Home Depot email I received asking me to review the light fixture I bought to attach to a ceiling fan? I already wrote a review, had it accepted, and felt kind of good that the next shopper will be assured that the fixture is just fine and dandy.

What do you think of product reviews? Do you browse them before purchasing something or booking a service? How often do you leave a review? Please share your thoughts and comments!

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The Author

Rosanne Ullman has a long freelance writing career. She is the author of the children's picture book The Case of the Disappearing Kisses, an admin for the Facebook group "Grammar Matters," and the creator and instructor of the Write My Memoirs Grammar and Writing Course.

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