Leveraging online reviews

Online reviews can potentially present a challenge, they can also be an opportunity to generate good will if leveraged properly.

August 06, 2012

The new world of social marketing can be very powerful, giving your company the ability to compete with much larger corporations. It also gives consumers unprecedented power to review and comment on businesses. While online reviews can potentially present a challenge, they can also be an opportunity to generate good will if leveraged properly.

In research conducted last year, Cone Communications, a Boston-based public relations agency, found that 80 percent of consumers had changed their minds about a purchase because of negative information they had found online. In other words, this isn’t something you can ignore.

Be proactive

The best way to manage the review process is to get out in front of it. At the very beginning of a project, tell the client you’d like them to write a review of their experience on Angie’s List, Yelp, Google, etc. at the conclusion of the work. Be sure you let them know you want to know about any problems that develop along the way. By doing this, not only do you have better control of the reviews, but you also demonstrate your willingness to address issues that come up during the remodel.

Tout your positive reviews

The vast majority of online reviews are positive, so emphasize the good ones your business has generated by highlighting them on your website, through your Twitter account and on your Facebook page. People have a tendency to focus on the negative, so highlight the positive.

React quickly to negative reviews

Negative reviews are a fact of life. The reality is that nobody is going to have completely satisfied customers. In fact, if your site shows nothing but positive reviews, potential clients are likely to doubt their veracity. A few negative reviews offer authenticity.

The key is how you respond to that complaint. Addressing it quickly is important. Reach out to that client and see what you can do to make it right. It’s an opportunity to show other potential clients that you are willing to take care of problems right away. If the client is now satisfied, try to get them to post an updated review that addresses your quick response.

It’s also important to keep your ego in check. Even if you’re “right,” it’s unlikely you’ll come out looking good if you argue with a client online. And don’t waste your time trying to get negative reviews removed. Most review sites won’t do that except in rare instances, such as when you can prove a competitor wrote the review.

Keep an eye out

Set up Google alerts (google.com/alerts) for your company name so you know when anything is posted online about your firm. Google is hit-and-miss with the social media sites, though, so you’ll also want to closely monitor those by using tools like Bing’s social search (bing.com/social). There are also companies, such as TweetAngel, that will monitor Twitter for negative reviews and notify you immediately so you can address them. PR

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