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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 10-20-2015

When you want to buy a product, some of the first questions you ask yourself are: Is it good? Does it serve my purposes? Such questions are often the trigger for seeking out online reviews. You never need look far to find a review on services, businesses, and even tourist destinations. Now, consider your business for a minute. How do you shape up in the review department? Consumer reviews are essential in order to flourish, but how do you establish and attract reviews?

Many social media platforms provide users with a way to post reviews. Let's take Facebook for instance. On Facebook you can add a physical location for your page, and when you do that it automatically adds the option of adding reviews. This is a very significant indicator for your client base to find out what they need to know. Your page presence increases with more reviews. In addition to the option of having more detailed reviews which could include more details of the specific type of information that your page visitors are more interested in.

Another way to ask for reviews is by creating your own accounts each popular websites for reviews – such as Yelp, Trip Advisor; City Search, et.) or, you can create a single account on the new app called ReviewMe, which streamlines this review process altogether. With ReviewMe, your customers can write a single review and have it distributed to every major review site automatically, so you can say good-bye to maintaining multiple accounts and finding your reviews diluted among various platforms.

It’s always recommended to promote your business and ways to review it within your social media, website, receipts, e-newsletters and other related collateral. Often, customers who are really happy enjoy showing appreciation by leaving good reviews online. However, it’s important to keep in mind the same holds true for really discontent customers as well, so it’s important to try and avoid and remedy negative customer experiences as immediately and fully as possible. Like anything in our digital era, online reviews are a double-edged sword. 

Research shows that in the past couple of years more than 80% of online search results lead to social media accounts, rather than the actual website. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ deal with very strong search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Therefore, you should consider leveraging these platforms within marketing plans and monitoring them closely. Sometimes neglecting a big, yet not very common platform, such as Google+, can do unexpected damage to your brand. One unhappy customer can go leave a bad review about your brand on Google+, and that will show up in search results for good, leaving you having to counterbalance. Thus, the best way to countermeasure this possibility is by encouraging positive reviews from the beginning on the different social media channels and review websites.

It’s important to never underestimate the power of the digital era. Customer experiences are no longer limited to transactions. Thanks to the advent of social media and reviews, each customer now has immense power to shapes and define how others will see your business. Lucky businesses can find themselves with free brand ambassadors who enjoy prolifically share their praises within social media and help to build increased interest and awareness. Likewise, there can be customers who feel slighted, jipped and dissatisfied who will endeavor to tarnish reputations whenever possible potentially dragging you down and damaging a fragile reputation. Which you get all depends on the quality of the products and experience you and your staff provide and how much attention you also dedicate to encourage social media engagement and sharing of positive experiences with good reviews.

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