Businesses of the internet age know how important it is to have customer reviews prominently displayed in search engine results, on their websites, and on forums like Yelp.
In fact, according to Bright Local, 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
You cannot hide from customer reviews. Those that choose not to show their reviews will be passed over for those that are more transparent, and proud of their reputations.
So, once you understand the importance of customer reviews, the next step is to gather them – and that can be easier said than done.
One underutilized tool in this effort is your social media presence. You can use various social media platforms to encourage, collect, and display way more customer reviews than what you might get from sitting back and waiting for people to find you on TripAdvisor. An oft-reviewed business, with a positive score, is going to get more business down the road as well.
Here’s how to get more customer reviews through social media to better promote your business:
Enable Reviews on Your Platforms
Take Facebook for example. After setting up your business’ page on Facebook, make sure that you’ve enabled reviews in your back-end settings. Once you allow visitors to post recommendations on your page, you’ll start accruing a rating that will appear in search results on the platform.
Note that you can still moderate and even hide or delete offensive or unrelated reviews or comments on your page, so you aren’t simply allowing anyone to post whatever they want without consequence. A page with no reviews or rating at all, however, raises a red flag for potential customers.
Be sure to activate and verify your Google My Business page as well, which will allow visitors to post reviews that show up in Google’s search results.
A Word on Negative Reviews
Not exactly. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a perfect business, so a review page with dozens or even hundreds of five-star reviews raises questions as to the legitimacy of your business. A business with a 4.8 score might be more appealing to someone than a business with a 5.0 score. The former seems authentic; the latter, a fabricated mirage.
Plus, negative reviews give you an opportunity to receive honest feedback about your business that you might need to hear. Perhaps your customer service team isn’t meeting your high standards, or your checkout process is cumbersome, or your in-store experience has turned off some visitors. Choosing to simply ignore and delete that kind of constructive feedback isn’t good for your business.
Finally, as we’ll get into in a bit, letting people air their grievances – and giving yourself a chance to publicly respond – is a good thing.
Interact With Your Followers
With that in mind, you should interact with anyone who comments, posts, or reviews your business on any of your social platforms. Responding to your followers lets them know that you’re listening to them, and makes them more likely to respond to your posts in the future.
When it comes to people leaving reviews, you have an opportunity with social media to champion their positive reviews as well as address concerns they might bring up in a constructive way.
And because 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, according to Bright Local, this, in turn, may convince them to post their own feedback when the time comes, earning you even more customer reviews through social media.
Field Customer Service Requests Through Social Media
Many businesses have a standard customer service process – maybe you ask people to fill out a form online, shoot you an email, or give you a call. If you already have a system in place, you may be reticent to encourage customers to also get in touch with you via social media.
But the benefits of fielding customer service issues through social may outweigh the drawbacks. For one, allowing people insight into how you deal with a customer service complaint, step by step, will boost your reputation as a passionate and customer-focused business.
Secondly, you can use the interactions – including, hopefully, the pleased reactions of the people you help – as reviews in and of themselves. What better way to demonstrate how dedicated you are to customer satisfaction than showing, on a public platform, how that process plays out in real time?
For complicated customer service requests, you can respond and point people in the direction of a different avenue for a final resolution (such as posting your customer service hotline phone number). Even simple responses like these, however, go a long way towards assuaging disgruntled customers and assuring new ones that you’ll be responsive in case of an issue.
Let Customers Shop With You Using Social Media
For example, you can now sell your wares through shoppable posts on Instagram. It’s possible for customers to complete a purchase, from browsing to sending payment, without ever leaving the Instagram app. The same goes for Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. You can create a shop and catalogue, and link your business bank account, with relative ease on these platforms.
At this point, your users’ experience of shopping with you will take place entirely in a social media ecosystem. You can then encourage shoppers to leave a review through the very same app that they just used to buy from you.
Offer Exclusive, Social Media-only Incentives
Offer exclusive incentives through your social media posts that will encourage customers to not just leave a review, but make it clear they got the prompt through your social media.
For example, alert customers through social media that they can receive a small rebate on their purchase, or a discount on their next one, if they write an honest review of your business on Facebook or Yelp with the hashtag “#HonestReview.” (Just a suggestion.)
In order to encourage people to follow you on social media, you can make these offers limited-time-only. That way, people will sign up to get notifications from you on social media, with the intent of buying from you, and then leaving a review.
Use Other Channels to Drive Reviewers to Your Social Media
For example, if you use email marketing to connect with current and potential customers (which, if you’re not, you should: it’s been shown to have the best return on investment of any digital marketing strategy), you can include links and CTAs – call-to-action buttons – to your social media platforms, asking customers to leave reviews.
Whenever a customer visits one of your channels or interacts with your brand, you should make it as easy as possible for them to visit your other channels, particularly those that ask for feedback.
The truth is, you can use social media to advance a number of digital marketing causes, from garnering reviews to strengthening bonds with new and loyal customers alike. The first step is recognizing that you can listen on social media just as much as you broadcast (if not more so).
With that in mind, start using social media to gather reviews of your business – whether by fielding customer service requests or by simply interacting more often with your followers. You’ll be surprised how much your followers will offer you in terms of feedback if you show them that you’re willing to hear what they have to say.
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