Online review sites are the slushpiles of feedback.
S. Kelley Harrell – American best-selling author
Obviously, author S. Kelley Harrell has a low opinion of opinions. And who can blame her? Anyone with a computer, a website, and an agenda, can reach hundreds-of-thousands of people, with lightning speed, thanks to social media. Arguably, amateur reviewers don’t recognize the power they wield, to propel or pummel a business, with nothing more than their opinion. Take for example, a Grand Forks, N.D., Olive Garden restaurant review- written by an 85-year-old newspaper stringer- that went viral in December, 2012. In less than 48 hours, an otherwise unremarkable review of the town’s new restaurant reached 250,000 people in a market that normally garners 5,000 views. That’s fast. Powerful.
As professional reviewers, we have an obligation to take this endeavor seriously. If you are compensated (in any way) to write product and service reviews as a freelance writer, you know what I mean. I’ve written my share on Runwritedig; it’s heady stuff. There are some tried-and-true guidelines and tips to write a credible product review that I’d like to share. To do the heavy lifting of describing the guidelines, I’d like to introduce Grace Beckett, a freelance copywriter, social media content strategist and professional reviewer.
GUEST POST – GRACE BECKETT
Blog Tips – How To Write a Credible Product Review
Product and service reviews are captivating and useful for your readers. Establishing a neutral position while you tell a story, give instruction, or offer personal opinions, is not for the faint-of-heart, but goes a long way toward establishing credibility with your readers. It is, after all, meant to come from your personal perspective. So, when you write a product review post, it is important to carefully consider your responsibility to the product or service and maintain a certain sense of decorum as you pen it. Because you have an opinion about the object at hand, it does require a degree of subjectivity. More than anything, learn to approach the review with a sense of detachment, while simultaneously offering your views, personal experiences and beliefs.
Here are some tips to consider before writing a review:
Get To Know the Product or Service
First impressions make a lot of difference in the way a person views a particular object. But your readers will expect more than a cursory first impression. When you are reviewing a product, your testimony of how you used it establishes credibility. So, put it through the rigors of daily life. Become absolutely familiar with it.
In the case of reviewing movies, sometimes it helps to go watch them two or three times to catch the nuances of plot, cinematography and character development.
Jot Down Your Thoughts
Take plenty of notes during the testing phase. Doing this will help you recall your earliest impressions of the product or service when you sit down later to write the review. Note sensory cues from your experience to enrich your article. For example, note how the item felt, sounded, smelled, or looked upon first glance.
Conflicts, Flaws, Problems
Record any problems and deficiencies that you experience with the item. Take seriously your responsibility to the product manufacturer or service provider. This is where neutrality, fairness and integrity help you to remain credible in your readers’ eyes. It’s OK to be blunt and straightforward if that’s the best way to describe your experience. If you are disappointed in an aspect of the product or service, or if it didn’t live up to the marketing hype, warn your readers about it to help them make their own decision about any future purchase or use of the item.
Time to write your review:
Background and Introduction
Tell your readers what it is that you are reviewing– and why. Your readers are your readers because they trust you. They want to know the “why” just as much as they want to know the “what.” Write about how you personally approached the product and its given features.
Mention the positive aspects of the products. What did you like about it? How did it make you feel? (use those sensory notes) What are the benefits of the product or service and how will it improve your life or your experience? Did it live up to your expectations? Irrespective of how poor your experience was, the product should have a positive side.
The product’s downfalls and bad elements; the parts that you did not like, etc., all have a place in the review. These points may seem negative and confrontational, however they serve a purpose; they provide balance, credibility and information that will help your readers better understand the product. When reviews are widely distributed and garner a large audience, negative comments also provide the company with motivation to recognize and improve their offering.
Conclude with your own thoughts and views. A concise and deliberate summary will help readers digest the subjective nature of the review, and prepare them for the objective nature of the next section: The Score.
Tally a score for the item. Consider using a five-star rank range, or an “out of ten” score. Think about using a simple “thumbs up/down” system. It’s less important to have a rigid formula, and more important to think in terms of showing an overall trend, or average rating. This will help your readers decide their stance on the product in an easy manner if they wish to skip reading the actual review.
Digging Deeper: The Benefits of Blogging
What good is blogging for me/my business? Why bother? The following video shows the benefits of blogging using statistics.
For more blogging videos, subscribe to Godot’s youtube channel.