As your business adapts to social media marketing, it’s crucial to not disregard that part of social media known as online reputation management. While the term “social media” can mean many different things, it boils down to a digital acknowledgment of what your customers think about you. That feedback can appear on any social channel your customers choose and leaving online reputation management out of that equation is dangerous.
As I work with business leaders and their staff from around the country, delivering social media and online reputation management training, I’ve witnessed all facets of how online ratings effect business operations. The fact that we’re able to get instant feedback from customers through online reviews is a valuable tool to improve and grow business. However, those owners and managers who aren’t ready to hear everything that’s being said find themselves in a constant state of anxiety…and sometimes animosity.
Solutions that won’t hamper your online reputation management
Having such a large group from which to learn from has been very enlightening. Meeting so many owners and their staff in these online reputation management trainings has allowed me to understand the ways businesses struggle to adapt their operations to the savvy, well-connected customer.
One of the major stumbling blocks to integrating an internal system to get happy, loyal customers to publish their opinions on review sites – especially when it comes to Yelp – is that in a lot of markets, many customers are not regular users of Yelp. A review from a non-Yelper typically gets “filtered” (“not recommended”), thereby nearly negating all the hard work it takes to obtain the Yelp review. The frustration level with this makes many business owners exclaim, “I hate Yelp.”
But make no mistake, when superior business culture, great customer experience and regular Yelp users come together, it’s pretty amazing. There was only one stop on the training tour where Yelp was actually looked at by the attendees as a positive, in fact, very positive, tool to grow their business’ online reputation: Northern California (no surprise there, really).
It was refreshing to connect with and hear feedback from San Francisco-area business leaders whose customers are already Yelpers, use it daily and are very vocal about their opinions. These leaders embrace Yelp (many use it personally) and it was awesome to hear the creative ways they’re getting customers to share their experience online.
For the majority of the attendees I work with however, Yelp is not an easy subject to talk about. And while Yelp’s business model can seem curious and counter-intuitive, it’s still a place where customers go to share opinions with their network.
Here’s the thing
It’s Yelp’s movie. We’re just in it.
You have a finite amount of energy. You can either spend it getting frustrated or you can spend it focused on solutions.
Don’t Let These 4 Complaints Turn into Afflictions
If you’ve caught yourself or your staff declaring any of these, don’t let that stop you from what’s rightfully yours: a exceptional online reputation.
“I hate Yelp.”
I’ll admit that Yelp is not one of the most favorite social channels for businesses. When we don’t like something, we tend to act like it’s not there. Too many businesses are suffering because they are wishing Yelp would just go away.
You know who doesn’t hate Yelp? Yelp users. And there are lots of them, many of whom are your customers and prospects.
While it may not always look like this, Yelp is not going anywhere. Go ahead, express yourself. Say all the nasty stuff you want about it (for 5 minutes) then sit down and evaluate how you can leverage the positives of Yelp without focusing on the negatives.
“I don’t believe in Yelp.”
Yeah, but your customers do.
Understanding your customers’ shopping behavior is key to increased sales. All I’m saying is to consider the fact that others believe differently than you. If you want to sell things to them, then start believing in Yelp (and all other online review sites).
88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. If that isn’t enough to get you to start believing then I don’t know what will.
Yelp is “crybaby.com”
Hanging onto negativity is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Are there cry babies on Yelp? Of course there are. But it’s your job to get your happy, loyal customers to share their feedback so that buyers get a true sense of your business.
“Yelp filters out all my positive reviews.”
Online reputation management is a numbers game. Some will, some won’t, so what.
Is it difficult to get online reviews? It can be if you don’t have a process.
- Consistent email campaigns specifically targeting current and repeat customers.
- Salespeople who’ve been trained and buy into the importance of online reputation management.
- Incentives and pay plans integrated with online reviews.
Online reputation management is a choice. You can hate it, thereby ignoring it, or you can embrace it. But since your customers are making buying decisions based on what other customers are saying, the latter option seems like the right choice.