I recently read an article in the Journal of Marketing Research (August 2013) titled “Temporal Contiguity and Negativity Bias in the Impact of Online Word of Mouth” authored by Zoey Chen and Nicholas Lurie. Prior research suggests that positive online reviews are less valued than negative online reviews – if you are a brand manager, I’m sure this comes as no surprise. One hundred people can say great things about your brand, but one Negative Nellie can cause some real trouble.
I found this article interesting because the authors hypothesize that ‘temporal contiguity’ defined as “presence of words and phrases indicating temporal proximity between product consumption and review writing” can make positive reviews more impactful. For example, the use of “today”, “tonight”, “just got back”, and “this morning” resulted in consumers finding reviews more valuable. More interestingly in my opinion, the same did not hold true for negative reviews (i.e., the inclusion of temporal contiguity cues did not increase the review’s perceived value).
The author’s recommendation is that marketers should encourage consumers to review products immediately after consumption and to explicitly communicate the recency of their experiences. It’s great if you can get a review that states “I had a positive tech support experience. The rep was helpful and friendly”, but it’s even better if you can get a review that states “Today I had a positive tech support experience. The rep was helpful and friendly”.