“I love this product!” how many times have we read this sentence and checked out more about that moisturizer or frying pan or bag. Nowadays, more and more people go online to read reviews about a product/service or brand before heading out to the actual physical store.
This means that what people say online has a growing influence on a business’ bottom line. It can either propel a store to internet stardom and have droves of buying customer to their door, or, drive new and old customers away. One notable site that is influential to the rise and fall of restaurants in the US is the website Yelp. There, customers can post reviews about the restaurant that they have gone to – the food, the service, ambiance, location, etc. These more authentic, organic descriptions of a restaurant now have a great impact on consumers since these are perceived to be genuine, devoid of advertising or marketing from business owners. Enough bad reviews can deter customers from going to an establishment while great reviews can take a budding food stall to a full blown brick and mortar place.
How is this important to business owners?
The role of social media in the growth of a business is ever increasing. This is not to say that traditional methods of advertising have gone completely obsolete, rather, business owners have to be more mindful about what people say about their business, online.
It’s important to engage customers, to talk to them. Online reviews are actually a great way to get free feedback about your product/service and target these areas for improvement. If your business has a Facebook page, experts agree on an 80/20 ratio for content. Eighty percent of posts should not be about your business. The remaining 20% can contain promotional materials but present these in a way that is significant to your customers.
If you’re a business owner, here are some tools we can recommend to help you manage your online social media presence.
Quill Engage – it’s a free tool that helps you make sense of big data from Google Analytics
Edgar – intelligent reposting of content on various platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter
KingSumo – rotates blog headlines, finds out which ones are the most effective, and displays those
What should we be mindful of as consumers?
When reading online reviews, we all have to be mindful of taking these with a grain of salt. Most of the time, people only post online after they’ve had a bad experience. It’s better to read as many reviews as you can to get an overall picture instead of relying on just 1 or 2 posts.
We should also be critical of what we post because these can easily go viral. Just stick to the facts. If the dress you ordered online did not come in the color you specified, then you can go and post that. However, don’t exaggerate or put in details that did not actually occur. Think of it as helpful criticism for the business owner. Most of the time, business owners are apologetic about mishaps like this and may even give you freebies to make up for their mistake.
Post the good too. This will help your favorite corner coffee shop or kitschy shirt maker to stay in business and keep on giving you the coffee or cool shirt that you love. Help them grow by sharing or posting about them in your own profile. You love them so your friends might love them too. There’s enough hate floating around so it’s great when you can spread some love around.