During a meeting, a friend and I stumbled upon the idea of popular opinion versus the expert opinion
Current thinking on this is that popular opinion is where it’s at with UGC, comments on Amazon and that creepy Beacon thing on Facebook. The opinion of the people is to be trusted more than whatever the authority figures try to dictate.
However, I do know that in the area of web search, Google is the conclusive authority on which websites are the most relevant.
But consider this.
I don’t think it is common knowledge that the way Google ranks websites is more social than we think it is. Its popularity, while based on a lot of things, is highly influenced by links, visits and content – things that are controlled by people. I remember an old co-worker telling me this story about an SEO contest and the winner being the person who just published their thoughts on the contest. So really, we decide what should come up first when you say Google “bowling balls”. But the process to make that happened has been branded under Google and its algorithm.
Similarly with Amazon, the recommendations that it makes is presented in such a way that it feels like the company is drawing the connections for you. However, a lot of that is based on what you’ve purchased before, what other people have purchased before and what you’ve browsed for. You made that recommendation to yourself.
These two are examples of companies that are very successful because of their ability to serve their customers. How do they know what their customers want? They’ve already told them! So as brands/companies/experts are sweating these details, there may be some sort of judo move that allows them to reclaim their stature.