Picture this: I’m not an electrician, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express the night before…yet I’m on my knees with my wire strippers and screwdriver to rewire a wall outlet in my bedroom. I had the sense to turn off the breaker, but the wires were so burned out on the prior outlet that I couldn’t see which ones were tied to which terminals. Which Wire to Cut? Which Wire is the “hot wire”? OK, somebody told me this in a 7th grade shop class, but…umm, that was a long time ago! So I went to that pervasive resource that wasn’t a gleam in my eye in the early 80′s: I Googled It!!

Whatever is on the internet MUST be true, right? I‘m putting my life in the hands of other people who might have intentionally put the wrong information on the internet just to watch things go “BOOM”! People completely believe the content on Wikipedia; however, it is crowd-sourced content. In fact, my son-in-law recently discovered that his professor would not accept Wikipedia as a valid research resource. Yet I’ve learned everything from how to hit a topspin tennis serve…to how to tear apart and put together a PS3…to what the internal temperature of my homemade smoked salmon should be before taking it off my Big Green Egg via information I found on the internet.

And I do not just go to the internet for “how-tos”…

  1. I do not go to a restaurant that I haven’t vetted on Yelp
  2. I do not book a hotel that I didn’t verify on TripAdvisor
  3. I do not purchase electronics that I haven’t researched on Best Buy and Cnet reviews
  4. I do not check out a library book that I don’t first read the reviews on both Amazon AND GoodReads (life’s too short to read crappy books)

If you are a brand, do not miss this point: Customers are talking about you, and it’s not in your survey. Consumers like me read those reviews and opinions – and then we make purchase decisions (sometimes to the tune of several thousand dollars). Since those reviews impact your bottom line to the tune of several thousand dollars, possibly in a single purchase, perhaps you should be monitoring for those reviews?

There is safety in numbers! A hearty thanks to the multiple experts I found on Google that told me the black wire is the “hot wire”. I lived to tell this story because I didn’t trust the occasional outliers that said “cut the white wire…hehe”. Morals of the story: never trust the outliers, and that includes consumer reviews. Do not make a major purchase decision based upon a single person’s bad consumer experience. But if you are a brand, seek to address that bad consumer experience – so you can prevent your brand reputation from going “Boom”!