Social networking makes online customer reviews and word of mouth marketing critical for many small and mid-size businesses. The internet has become a vital tool for customers and voicing their opinions.
Businesses who ignore Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, blogs, and review sites are either very busy, myopic or arrogant. Avoiding negative reviews and getting positive ones requires some time, logical thought, and a little strategy. Unsatisfied customers are more likely to tell others about their experience than satisfied ones. Social networkers are greatly influenced by peer reviews. The same tools that will spread the negative reviews can be used in proactive and positive ways.
What can your business or organization do?
- Make it easy as possible for customers to communicate with you and review you - Make it as easy as possible for a customer to write a review. Is your Yelp information correct. Do you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare? Do you send follow up email with a link to your review pages. Let customers know that you value their opinion and that you welcome feedback so you can improve your business. Do you make it convenient via your marketing materials and websites to find your business links to LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Just how good are you? – Being OK isn’t enough. If you want to get more positive customer reviews, you need something exceptional or have a very loyal clientele. What are you Tweeting about? What’s new or unique about your business. What is featured in your latest blog or Facebook post? Almost every business has exceptional features or qualities. What makes you a competitor, the leader in your field, the underdog, or new guy on the street? Your most satisfied customers know. Engage them and they will tell you.
- Take all reviews seriously (and some with a grain of salt)- Some customers don’t provide feedback because they assume it just gets ignored. Customers who do give feedback need to know you are listening. That is exactly why you need to show you take the reviews seriously. Responding respectfully and thoughtfully to negative reviews shows that your business cares and is not afraid to engage criticism. Taking the time to communicate and respond to the issues shows customers that you value their opinion. Business owners and customers have never, until recently, had this type of digital dialog and micro-cast available. The resource is powerful and indelible. The digital world is like the “real” world. There is a chance you will never satisfy everybody. Some people only thrive on the negative; you need to get a quick sense of who they are and politely let them be.
- Don’t argue – Don’t get too upset. You don’t want to argue with the reviewer. Don’t look defensive and unprofessional. Apologize for the negative experience, and find out if there’s anything you can do to fix their opinion. Maybe you can resolve the problem, and possibly have the negative review deleted by the user.
- Leave a trail for reviews but never bribe – Reviews need to be genuine. You can not ethically offer your customers an incentive for giving you a positive review. No freebies or discounts. This has come back to haunt some businesses . If you bribe for positive reviews, you’ll be in violation of the policies of most review sites, and many customers can see through your game. Encourage your best customers to review you, but do not reward.
Are you aware of all the places your business is mentioned and reviewed?
How are you monitoring your reputation and responding?
We have all read and written about Facebook and it’s gorilla-like privacy tactics. They have repeatedly changed settings and privacy controls for their own benefit. Many users have been vocal and actually thought about the privacy issues and potential downside risks. Some users have thought about digital responsibility for the first time. Employers, insurance companies, marketers, law enforcement agencies potentially all have easy access to almost everything on your Facebook pages. Facebook’s privacy controls have been confusing and I have pretty much lost count on how many times the settings have changed in the past year.
So why do Facebook users stay around? It’s easy to figure out!
- Its the #1 site on the web 540,000,000 unique visitors; 35.2% reach; 570,000,000,000 pages views. So with these type of numbers where are your more likely to have more friends, Facebook or …?
- Users have invested too much time and labor on their pages. Starting over would be a lot of work. Would all your friends be there? You can only leave if your friends go with you.
- There is no real competition to Facebook. The garden is kind of walled off, even with the open privacy settings. You are kind of stuck.
- Lack of privacy is good for business. Facebook’s business users are not in it for privacy. They are here for a new level of business engagement. They won’t leave unless you do.
- Facebook is trying to listen. They say they are now giving us better control of our user and privacy settings. Time will tell.
- There are no 12-step programs currently available to get off Facebook. I’m not sure if social networks are damaging to your health? It’s not a far reach to other addictions. Smoking, drugs, overeating, etc.
- Everything in life is a trade-off. Actions and consequences. Agreeing to Facebook’s EULA is the trade off. The benefits of being networked on Facebook outweigh the forfeit of some of your privacy rights. That is the bottom line.
- If we quit Facebook… how would our sophomore year roommate find us 20 years later? And all those old girlfriend stories?
- Where are you going to go? Twitter is definitely not Facebook. LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace, Friendster ? I don’t think so.
- Bad day for a Facebook exodus! “Quit Facebook Day” was this past Monday, Memorial Day. 33,000 users reportedly quit. It may have been a more effective protest had users been indoors on Monday and had the Facebook execs not addressed some of the issues earlier in the week.
You and 400 million others can not quit. You may be in it for the long haul. What would Facebook (or any other dominant site) need to do to make us flee?