Do Your Friends Help You Shop?

shoppinggirlThat's the question that Paul Dunay addresses in a great interview with eMarketer.  The concept is simple because it's something we've been doing offline forever.   When you are about to make a purchase and are unsure what alternatives would be best for you, you ask someone you trust. In the past it was a phone call to your techie buddy about the new home theater system or to your sister about the birthday gift for your girlfriend.   Now, with social tools like Facebook and Twitter we can post a quick status message asking our friends for advice.   In minutes you have several opinions.

But sometimes, you don't have a friend who is familiar with the product you are researching, so the next best thing would be to get advice from people who already own the product.  What if you ask your question directly to current customers and get their opinions back in minutes? This is much better than searching and sorting through review sites (although that does work).

If you are a Marketer, are you giving your prospects the tools to ask your advocates buying advice?   Answering questions is a great way to mobilize your advocates.  Advocates are already willing to recommend you to others and answering questions to help others provides immediate positive feedback.  I've been using aardvark for a while and my experience is that answering questions is more fun and rewarding that asking (which was a bit of a surprise).

The set of tools that allows prospects to ask advocates questions is something we are thinking about and working on at Zuberance.  Even though it's a simple concept, there's a lot to think about.  What choices do you give the prospect so they can get a response from "someone like them"?  How do you push relevant questions to advocates for answering?  And lots more.  We'll share more as we go, but would love to hear your thoughts about mobilizing advocates in this way.