Trying to decide between the dozens of local barbecue joints or which dry cleaner will take the best care of your threads is extremely difficult. With businesses flourishing from left to right, how do you decide which plumber to use, which salon will give you the best blowout, or who has the best pizza in town? Today’s consumer heavily relies on social review sites, such as Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch, and Google+ (formerly Google Places), when making these types of decisions. If you’re not yet familiar with these outlets, you may want to take some notes on how to use these mediums to market your business:
Now, aside from the obvious use of social review sites, it’s important to note that -whether you’re a B2B operation or in the business of consumer service — social review sites will ultimately help with SEO. Search engines reward businesses that have legitimate physical addresses posted on a variety of sites with high traffic, content and rankings (i.e., Yelp, Google+). So, the more local search listings you have published across cyber space, with your company name, website and physical street address included, the higher your search engine ranking will be, and the more easily you can be found by your target consumer.
Active Community Management
Creating your review profile is the first step, but it doesn’t stop there. For consumer-facing businesses, you need to have someone on your team assigned to take the time to monitor your profile for conversations and feedback daily. Many consumers use these review sites as a way to praise or complain about your business, so it’s important to have someone who is readily available to respond in a timely manner.
Customer Service and Employee Involvement
Social review sites also serve as a great, highly personalized form of customer service. You can monitor what consumers are saying about your business and make the necessary changes based on those reviews. Additionally, consider integrating the act of asking for social reviews into your customer service policy so that your employees know how to appropriately ask clients to leave stellar reviews on various social review sites (and actually do it!). What better way to capture reviews than to ask those who are already singing your praises right then and there?
Promotions and Check-Ins
Almost all local review sites offer check-in deals for your customers. Loyalty deals (every 10th check in you get a free cupcake) are great for customer retention, and first-timer deals (get 10% off on your first visit) provide great incentive for new clients to discover your business. You can also offer discounts and contests as an incentive for customers to review your business, but keep in mind that some review sites have rules restricting these promotions (Yelp is one of these). So, do your research with each one to ensure that you’re not offsetting the balance within that specific reviewer community.
Browsing through reviews before deciding on a vendor or checking in to our favorite places has become such a huge part of our social experience and purchasing decisions. Don’t discount the power and importance that these review sites can have on your business. If you have yet to harness the power of social review sites, you may want to get moving!