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Online Reviews: Friend or Foe?

According to a press release by Nielsen published April 10, 2012, 92% of global consumers trust “earned media,” i.e. word-of-mouth, reviews, recommendations and comments posted on various social media sites from friends and family members. Do you trust your friends and family members’ opinions on products and services? What about your costumers, who do they trust?

The same survey found that 70% of consumers trust online customer reviews…from strangers! Your customers are communicating, sharing their experiences, likes and dislikes. Are you confident in what they are saying about you?

It can be difficult to read a bad review about your business or profession, especially on a platform that at times can be informal and unforgiving. So what are you to do? A business can easily take a step back and ignore online reviews and interactions with their customers…but is it wise to ignore 92% of consumers who make their purchasing decisions based on this form of media?

Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp or Angie’s List, consumers are sharing content online 24/7/365 (366 during Leap Year). Rather than absorb the negatives, why not harness the power of social media? Start hanging out where your customers hang out…online!

Here are a few tips to help maintain your online composure and meet customers half way:

  • Understand The Tools Available To You. If you’re a restaurant owner, you know what brands are being used in the kitchen. How familiar are you with social media sites? Understanding the potential that each platform carries is an important piece in developing an efficient and effective online marketing presence. From check ins to hashtags, tips to pins, there’s a world of useful tools at your disposal. Your customers are already using them, so it’s now up to you to understand and incorporate them into your everyday business practices.
  • Keep Your Eye On The Ball. Setting up a Twitter handle (account) and leaving it alone for two months doesn’t count as having a social media presence. If you’re going to do this…do it right. By the end of 2011, Yelp averaged 66 million visitors per month. There is a good chance that someone is looking for or reviewing your business as read this. Is it negative or positive? If you’re not paying attention, you will miss it. And by the time you’re able to catch up, you’ve not only lost a customer, but the 70% (at least) of consumers who trust these posts have now taken into consideration what they’ve just read online. Your online efforts require time and resources in order to harness the marketing potential available through these medias.
  • Accentuate The Positives. Mary loves the product selection. Susan’s expectations were exceeded. And David will definitely recommend your business to his friends. Sounds like your business has done a great job. Now what? If it hasn’t been posted directly onto your social media accounts or a review site, ask your customers to share their positive experiences. And when they do share these comments for the world to see, acknowledge them! Interact with your customers and make them feel appreciated. After all, your business just received free advertising to hundreds online connections.
  • Don’t Ignore The Negatives. Did you know you have the option to respond to a negative review on most sites? Not only can you respond…you should respond! The worst reaction to have towards a customer’s experience is no reaction at all. No one likes to be publicly humiliated, especially over spilled milk…or not enough milk. However, any content being shared online about your business should be considered gold. Your customers are sharing what they feel will make your business even better than you already think it is. If it happens to be a piece of bad news, deal with it. Take a moment to collect your thoughts and get passed the the feeling of having been personally attacked. Acknowledge the problem and respond accordingly. But remember, your reaction will be public and everyone will see how you respond to criticism. Use that to your advantage.

Want specific tips on how to turn the tables on negative reviews or utilizing the power of social media? Contact us today for a free consultation!

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