As you flip through the photos your best friend just posted on Facebook of her recent escape to Jamaica—beach, spa, fruity umbrella drinks, dancing with the locals—you’re tempted to book the next flight out to paradise.

Her word is as good as gold (has she ever let you down when it comes to fun adventures?), but you do your due diligence and head over to TripAdvisor anyway to check out the hotel she stayed at and that cool bar she hit up.

This scenario isn’t uncommon. In fact, it’s become the new norm.

Review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have only been around a short time—TripAdvisor started in 2000 with Yelp just four years later—but together have amassed nearly one billion customer reviews (or experiences) for people to consult as they make their travel decisions.

But before these sites existed, consumers had limited options for researching a business’ customer satisfaction. Instead, we relied on the feedback from our friends and family—a small circle of trusted advisors—to help guide us.

With more valuable information at our disposal than ever before, why wouldn’t we seek out everything we can on a particular brand before we made a purchase decision? Especially that which comes from real people who have real experiences to share that can help you make a decision?

If you’re still not convinced that real people’s feedback is critical when making purchase decisions, consider this:

  • 92 percent of people trust earned media (word of mouth) and recommendations above anything else (Nielsen)
  • 70 percent say online reviews are their second most trusted form of advertising (Nielsen)
  • 52 percent of Facebook users say their friends’ photos have inspired, or changed, their own travel plans (Internet Marketing Inc.)
  • 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (BrightLocal)

Overall, earned media and word of mouth is the number one influence on purchase behavior, which is why companies are prioritizing customer reviews by requesting their customers leave reviews and also directing potential customers to their business profiles on popular review sites.

The power of peer influence on purchase decisions is more evident today than ever before. Don’t underestimate the influence of your current customers on tomorrow’s buyers.