A guest post by Paul M. Rand President and CEO of Zócalo Group and Chief Digital Officer of Ketchum.

Online review site Yelp recently made headlines when it sued a San Diego law firm for allegedly posting fake reviews to its own Yelp page. In this age of social media – where customers share their feelings instantaneously with hundreds or thousands of friends and followers – fake reviews, jargon, and anything less than authenticity and transparency will not be tolerated.

As humans, we’re hard wired to look to others’ experiences to find the best course of action, so it’s natural that others’ opinions are important in decision-making. In fact, 92% of customers say a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member is the single most important factor in their purchase decisions (Nielsen 2012). It doesn’t matter if you’re a corner dry cleaner or a CMO for a multinational brand, harnessing this power should be your top priority.

First, you must conduct analyses to understand how you and your competitors are being talked about and recommended. Then, it’s time to develop a framework for how you want to be recommended. Now discover the people whose recommendations most influence purchase decisions, and activate them.

Of course, this is just a starting point. Becoming a highly recommended business doesn’t happen by accident. As the Yelp headline shows, you can’t fake it, and there are no shortcuts. But in an era where customer reviews can make or break a business, it’s mission critical to put recommendations at the center of your marketing strategy.