Third party endorsements. Our clients love third party endorsements, especially when that "third" party is the media. For years, that's what PR professionals have gone after - the coveted third party endorsement. Morning news? Great. Daily paper? Fantastic. Evening news? Wonderful. Oprah? Oprah? Somebody get me the paper bag and hand fan, I'm feeling dizzy. I should say right now, I value all of the above as meaningful results for the hard work of our team. But with the growing use and understanding of social media the best third party endorsements are not necessarily from the news media.
One of the best examples of this is eBay and the system that is used to "rate" the buyer or seller. If you've got a 99.5% approval rating from all customers and say 100 people have bought from you, that's pretty strong! Almost every customer that you have sold to is endorsing you saying that "you're an okay person with whom to do business." Let's say you've done a thousand or ten thousand transactions on eBay and you have a 98% satisfaction rating? Even better isn't it?
Another example is if you Google search or Twitter search your company, is there a lot of positive information or, more importantly, conversation about your business? If it's good conversation and there are a number of supporters or "third party endorsers," is that not extremely valuable? To help give perspective, what if you did the same search and no one liked your business, then how would you feel?
Is a third party endorsement in social media any more or less meaningful than the same endorsement from a news reporter? I would argue that the social media "thumbs up," could mean more and here's why: The people who find you through social media and "endorse" you or your project have the ability to spread the word of your "greatness" through online channels much faster than word of mouth. In addition, that online audience may come back again and again.
Here's the point: While social media continues to evolve rapidly, don't discount the opinions or endorsements from your fans or consumers in social media. Just because a third party endorsement for your business doesn't appear in mainstream media doesn't mean that it isn't living a vibrant life in social media.