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The use of social media for reviews has emerged as one of the major factors influencing consumers’ purchase decisions.
Thanks to business review websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor as well as social networks and search engines (like Facebook and Google), which allow users to leave reviews of businesses, online reviews carry potent word-of-mouth power that either draws or repels away potential customers.
According to industry research:
- Online reviews influence the purchase decisions of 93 percent of consumers. Meanwhile, negative reviews drive people away. Specifically, 94 percent say a negative review has convinced them to avoid a business.
- Consumers expect brands to respond to reviews, and 53 percent expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.
It’s no surprise, then, that companies are now embracing reviews as part of their marketing strategy.
When handled properly, online reviews even support and enhance the effectiveness of your social media strategy. Here are seven best practices you can apply to make reviews work in perfect harmony with your social media marketing efforts.
A Stronger Brand Reputation with Social Media and Reviews
Your brand reputation is critical to growing your business, and managing it involves more than creating promotional content or developing a PR program aimed at improving brand perception.
When evaluating businesses, consumers rely on what others say about you, more so than your own marketing copy for your products and services.
Fortunately, there are some ways online review management can work alongside your social media marketing strategy to help develop and protect your brand reputation.
Best Practice 1: Claim Your Business on Social Media and Online Review Sites
Social media is earned media, and success requires listening. To listen to customers and prospects, you first have to know where their conversations are taking place.
Make sure you claim your business on all the possible sites, channels, and platforms relevant to your business. You may already have a Facebook business Page or a Twitter profile but don’t stop there.
Plant your flag on web properties like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, to name a few. Also, make sure to claim your business on industry-specific sites — for example: Zomato and OpenTable for restaurants, Vitals and Healthgrades for medical providers, and Avvo and Lawyers.com for legal professionals.
Claiming your listings improves online visibility and your capacity to listen while placing you in a position to socially engage with users who are talking about your business.
Best Practice 2: Respond to Reviews
There is no reason to fear the Voice of the Customer. While negative social media comments and one-star reviews can sometimes feel like a punch in the gut, you have to face customer feedback head on.
To succeed on social media, you have to develop meaningful relationships with your fans and followers, as well as your “haters” and critics. Responding to reviews is a great way of doing just that.
Responding also creates an opportunity for impartial observers — your potential customers — to have a fair and reasonable perception of your brand. If you’re active on review sites, prospects can view your brand as being credible and responsive to customer needs, which makes them more likely to choose you over unresponsive competitors.
When writing your review responses, keep in mind that the goal is to build goodwill. Be nice and approach every review — no matter how negative — with care. Staying engaged and providing polite, professional responses may even pave the way for your harshest critics to give your business a second chance.
Not sure how to start? Read our guide containing great examples of how to respond to reviews.
Best Practice 3: Ask Customers for Reviews, then Share These on Social
Don’t let your happiest customers stay silent. Instead, find ways to get them to be more vocal about their experiences.
Rather than focusing on promotional brand content or paid advertising as your top investment priorities, why not ask your happiest customers for reviews? They can be powerful word-of-mouth catalysts for your business, so it makes sense to keep them engaged. On social media, where user-generated content (UGC) rules, reviews posted by your biggest fans can inspire brand trust.
If you’re already getting a steady stream of 5-star reviews on websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, share them on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram profiles. It’s a great alternative to pushing loud sales messages that don’t always work.
High ratings and reviews also do more than just drown out the negative. SEO software company Moz contends that reviews are among the top three factors in local search, so your ability to effectively collect and share reviews will also have a positive impact on your search visibility.
Best Practice 4: Promote Your Business on Social Media and Review Sites
By its nature, social media creates opportunities to exponentially expand your network, extend your brand’s reach, and grow your audience.
Don’t limit your efforts to “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Instagram.” Let people know that they can also find you on Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and other web properties. This demonstrates your authenticity and openness to feedback, which happen to be some of the most critical factors to succeeding on social media.
There are more than a dozen ways to promote your presence; share links, send emails and newsletters, and add website review widgets. Some review sites even provide businesses with free marketing collaterals (think window clings, stickers, and certificates) based on performance achievements within their respective communities.
(Image credit: TripAdvisor)
Use Social Media and Reviews for Better Customer Experience
Like social media comments, online reviews contain a wealth of data about your customers. You can use this data to your advantage, helping you achieve a more accurate and complete understanding of the customer experience.
Here are some of the ways you can utilize social media and online reviews to deliver improved customer experiences.
Best Practice 5: Identify and Fix Customer Issues
Social media transformed how businesses handle complaints and respond to customers’ needs and expectations. Outside of Facebook and Twitter, the Voice of the Customer is also heard through the reviews that they write.
If you aren’t already providing social care and support, here’s something to consider: 1 in 3 users prefer social media customer care services to telephone or email, and an estimated 67 percent use social media to seek resolution for issues.
Again, don’t limit yourself to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Extend the scope of your efforts to include online review sites. That way, you see the bigger picture and effectively identify and resolve customer issues while also creating new opportunities to foster customer loyalty.
Best Practice 6: Use Reviews to Gain Customer Insights
Just like UGC on social media, online reviews can be harnessed to help your business discover and interpret key insights about your customers.
Support the objectives of your customer experience analytics program by tapping into your precious review data. Regardless of rating, your reviews likely contain a wealth of information that will help you make smart, customer-centric decisions.
Best Practice 7: Share Positive Feedback with Your Team
Behind some of the savviest brands on social media are organizations that demonstrate a commitment to creating a customer experience culture.
If your social media strategy is successfully driving customer engagement, generating five-star reviews across the board or flourishing with hearts and likes and favorites don’t hesitate to share and celebrate those accomplishments with your team.
Not only does this boost staff morale and employee satisfaction; it can also ignite vibrant and powerful brand evangelists in your team. Engaged, happy, and motivated employees serve well as the voice of your brand in social media interactions, making your brand irresistible to your community.
Social media is a great channel that represents so many marketing opportunities. It can generate increased exposure for your company, help you develop engaging customer relationships, improve your online brand reputation, and even act as a customer service channel.
If you’re looking to maximize the results of your social media initiatives, learn how you can use online reviews to your advantage. When managed properly, reviews can support the goals of your social strategy by improving your brand reputation and delivering valuable customer experience insights.
Looking for a tool to help you manage social media and reviews more efficiently? The ReviewTrackers app integration for Hootsuite brings the best review management experience to the world’s most widely used social relationship platform. The app makes it easy and simple to track, manage, and analyze online reviews, social mentions, and customer feedback in one place.