What's Current Thought on Testimonials?

Joe D

I've read consistently that one of the most effective affordable marketing aids you can employ is a sincere testimonial from a satisfied customer, and certainly this makes rational sense. ...A third party raving about how amazing your product is, or how fantastic your services are...
If you use them, how do you get them? The most satisfied users you have are unlikely to ever send unsolicited praise...
Do you capture random remarks to use in reviews, recommendations and testimonials? Do you utilize surveys to create the basis for them? Request permission to quote their email or survey responses? Adapt their responses and send for approval?
What about pictures? Pictures are powerful...Do you create fake testimonials or are you authentic? Pictures, customer videos, emails - all these things go a long way toward establishment of trust in new prospective customers - probably more in mainstream than adult on this point ;-D
Online customers are savvy comparison shoppers these days and view everything on your site with a skeptical eye...Do you ask your users to recommend you via Twitter? How about their Facebook friends? Do they run blogs or forums? Do you link all your social sites to your homepage? Do you link your social sites to all the places your customers have given great reviews?
So much to do!