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Millennials and Reviews

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The largest generational cohort since the baby boomers, millennials are the largest generation in US history, and their shopping habits are shaping our economy more and more.

This tech-savvy generation has a purchasing power that will soon exceed that of every other generation. Strong supporters of online shopping, millennials are cautious as well, putting off large purchases until later in life and valuing quality over price.

It’s no surprise that with all the information available at their fingertips, they put research into their purchases whether it’s a physical one, or a service. That’s where reviews come in.

The Importance of User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) such as status updates on social media, blog posts and Google reviews are what make the millennial consumer’s world go around. The more viral and liked a product or service is by peers, the more likely they are to purchase it themselves.

In past generations, the professional opinion was king, but with a growing distrust for mainstream media and big corporations, this generation finds themselves turning to the most trusted source: mass approval.

Some may see this as illogical, but to understand the logic, consider this: Professionals may have appeared on adverts or written articles on a product, but was this always of their own volition? If not, someone wanted them doing that promotion for a reason. And can you really trust that?

UGC: Investing in Time to Make Solid Investments

Millennials spend 18 hours with media per day. Astounding, right? Some of us aren’t even awake for 18 hours of the day! Thirty percent of this time is spent browsing UGC, 33% on traditional media such as print and TV, and 37% on other media.

No matter what they’re looking at, and especially when it’s online, products are being promoted.

When something catches their eye, their first instinct is to look that product up online to see if it is legitimately what they expect, and to see if it’s worth buying.

If they’re looking for a service, Google reviews will be their first stop. If your business isn’t listed on a Google My Business page and set up with a star rating, you’re in trouble!

With 90% of millennials shopping online, your online presence is more important than ever. You just can’t afford to stay in the stone age.

Influence With Technology

Most millennials are obsessed with reviews. With apps like Yelp and Foursquare, everyone has a place to speak their mind. Whether you’re reading entertaining negative reviews, leaving one yourself, or praising the best pizza you’ve ever tried, reviews are fascinating and, for the most part, trustworthy.

Whether they’re aware of it or not, millennials have their antenna up for star ratings and reviews no matter where they are online and if there are no reviews to be found, it’s likely they’ll find a more reliable product.

So go the extra mile and make sure that your business is getting lots of great reviews. Rank higher on search engines, and bring in that amazing millennial purchasing power!

Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Fake Reviews

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It should go without saying that paying for reviews for your business that aren’t legitimate is not the greatest idea. But for a lot of people, this seems like the best answer for buffing up their positive Internet presence.

And why not? If it looks like a real customer and talks like a real customer, it must be a real customer. Not to mention if so many companies are doing it then it’s got to be legal, right? Wrong.

While you may or may not be aware, there are many reasons not to follow this path and stay legit.

It’s Fraud

Plain and simple, if you hire someone to write a phony review you are committing fraud. Think about why you want this person to write a review:to generate revenue for yourself.

With the popularity of online reviews in this era, they do translate to real money.

Fraud is defined as “the wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain”.

Sounds a whole lot like paying someone for a false review.

Real Results, Real Punishment

By 2015, Amazon had sued over 1000 people for writing fake reviews. Many of these reviewers came from the website Fiverr. And no—Fiverr was not sued—the individuals were. The websites on which your business is reviewed will not protect you or your reviewer, they will work towards ensuring the reviews on their website are as legitimate as possible.

Even Yelp and Alibaba have started to crack down on the fake reviews on their websites. And of course, Google has a reporting situation in place so they can handle fake reviews as well.
Want to keep your business’ reputation clean? Don’t pay for reviews.

Spotting a Fake Review

If you’re suspicious that a competitor is employing fake reviewers, there are ways to spot these reviews, or at least make an educated guess.

Take a trip over to Fakespot. Their system will scan for a number of factors including:

Overly positive language

Multiple reviews published the same day

If you want to do additional research yourself, check out the reviewer’s profile and see how real they seem. If you can’t find them in a quick Google search, they could very well be fake.

Tips for Real Reviews

It can be tempting to want to buff up your business by paying for fake reviews. But there are much better ways to get real reviews that you can actually feel good about.

Any time someone purchases from you or employs your services, just ask them to leave a review. Don’t offer gifts or coupons in exchange, simply learn how to pick out happy customers and get them to spread their joy.

And of course if any negative reviews appear, deal with them in a calm, professional manner.

Handle reviews properly and you’ll have a great reputation for your business online in no time!

How Consumers Use Reviews Online

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When you’re searching online to find the perfect restaurant to try out on Friday night, the last place you’ll choose is one with zero online presence. In the information age that is exactly what people are looking for: information. They want to see photos, other customer’s opinions, and maybe even a virtual tour if you have a physical storefront. These days, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more, with 94% saying they’ll use a business if it has at least a four-star rating.

On average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a five to nine percent increase in revenue, with just one negative review costing you 30 customers. Reviews are the best way to hold a business accountable. Consumers look for reliability, expertise and professionalism, and if you cannot practice these they’ll let you know.

So, if negative reviews are so dangerous, why collect reviews at all? Well, a couple negative reviews are better than no reviews at all, so long as you’ve got some positive ones going on as well. When negative reviews occur, respond quickly, admit to any errors, reiterate your company’s mission and if possible and warranted, provide compensation.

When a consumer looks at or leaves reviews online, they’re looking to:

Find the best business for their needs

Build trust

Express themselves

Help other consumers

Here are some more numbers to help you understand the benefits of reviews:

92% of consumers read online reviews

68% say positive reviews make them trust a business more

Only14% of consumers will use a business with a one- or two-star rating, whereas 94% would use one with a five-star rating

80% of consumers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations

Online reviews are probably the most important tool for a modern business. You can gain them with skill by requesting them from loyal customers and publicly thanking positive reviewers while apologizing to those who had a bad experience.

A business with active reviews on websites like Google, Yelp and Foursquare will get a boost in SEO making their online presence skyrocket and produce tangible results in the form of an 18% uplift in sales.

Now more than ever, consumers want to see that business’ are run by real people, not robots. By interacting through reviews, you are showing that you care enough about your customers to take a moment out of your day to leave a personalized response to their opinion, and being able to do that is massively beneficial to any business. The last thing the 2017 consumer wants is to deal with a business that is unreachable.

Reviews impact search ranking, too. In 2014 Google updated its search engine to take into consideration the reviews from popular sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. So, if you’re actively getting your customers to leave reviews for your business, you’ll get more business, guaranteed. This sets off a chain reaction to in turn produce more reviews and more new customers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews and interact with customers. It’s the only way your business is going to grow and survive. Give the gift of communication, and your consumers will most definitely give back!

How Online Reviews Impact Your Local SEO

More and more businesses are realizing the importance of online reviews when it comes to promoting their product or service, but did you know reviews also affect your Search Engine Optimization? SEO is just as crucial to the promotion of a business in 2017 because it means a boost in your ranking. For example, if someone is searching for a hair salon there are many options. But if you have the best SEO, they’ll find you first.

When you’re trying to beef up your SEO online reviews are critical to this process. Search engines love fresh user generated content, and customers love social proof. In fact, 90% of customers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.

Search engines like Google or Bing are in the business of creating fast and accurate search results, and the input from real people in the form of reviews is a great way to do this. In a recent study by Moz it was determined that reviews make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank results.

Factors that can play into your business’ SEO include a variety of signals such as linking, keywords and categories, with reviews coming in before social media in terms of boosting your business!

Google favors high-rated sites, and in a world where customers spend 31% more on a business with good reviews, you’ll want to get a review gathering strategy in place if you don’t already have one!

A good way to do this is request that happy customers leave a review. If you’re selling online, include your request in a thank you email. At a physical store, create a flyer you can drop in a customer’s bag along with their merchandise. You can even create a landing page on your website linking to review sites for the ultimate ease of access.

Review sites that will get the results you’re looking for include:

Google My Business/

Yelp

Foursquare

Citysearch

YP.com

Try the Review Handout Generator by Whitespark and Phil Rozek if you need an easy way to create handouts for your store, then wait for the reviews to start flowing!

Asking for reviews can be a bit of a scary process, considering you can land on a customer who’s not happy with their interaction. But don’t worry—even negative reviews keep your business active from a search engine’s point of view, and as long as you respond to all negative reviews in a calm and professional manner, you’ll be just fine.

Finally, on your quest for reviews, don’t be tempted into paying for fake reviews. This is considered fraud and you could be in big financial trouble for doing it. Not to mention, it’s just better to have legitimate reviews for your business. Even if they’re criticizing you, you can learn something from unhappy customers.

No matter the size or type of business you run, online reviews are imperative to keeping it running successfully. So, go and gather reviews and see just how good the results are!

Mike M.

I wanted to thank you for the good work LinkNow Media has been doing for Mathers Electric’s Google Listings.

I googled Electricians Tallahassee FL and we came up on the first page, real close to the top. We have a 5 star rating and 10 excellent google
Reviews. I did not see another electric company with a 5 star rating. Before I started using LinkNow Media I could not get this to happen.

No matter how much I payed other companies. We now get most of our new business from the Web (Google).

Sincerely and forever grateful, Mike Mathers

President of Mathers Electric Co., Inc.

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

1.

Where to start?

Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

2.

This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

3.

As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

…and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

Happy review reading, everyone!

Online Presence: Tips for Startups

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We’ve talked a few times about the importance of responding to online reviews. Whether you’re dealing with a favorable opinion or harsh criticism, it’s important that you acknowledge your customers and respond appropriately. However, before you can respond to any reviews, you first need to be aware that you’ve received reviews. This can be a difficult and time-consuming task for a new business owner juggling several responsibilities. Who has time to keep up with all that? Luckily, there are many tools available that will help you keep up with what people are saying about your business, such as:

Which Monitor Tool is Best?

Some of these tools are more robust than others, so you’ll want to research each one to determine which is best suited for your business. As a startup, it’s in your best interest to go with a more dynamic tool. No one knows who you are, and that means you’ll need a strong web presence from the get-go.

Why Monitoring is Important for New Businesses

People trust online reviews in the same way they trust personal recommendations, but you’re not going to earn trust overnight. Establishing solid relationships with your customers takes time and effort, and it starts online. These days, people are expecting to see a company response, so you can’t afford to not reply. This is your chance to show your customers that you are approachable and can relate to their situation, whether it’s good or bad. It’s also an opportunity to spread the word about how people can get in touch with you, whether that’s by phone, email, or social media.

Why Do You Need A Strong Online Presence?

How people perceive your company is everything, and the stakes are higher for startups. You don’t have the chance to establish yourself then transition online. You’re doing these things tandem, and it can be a lot to handle. Monitoring tools like the ones listed above can make the process of responding a lot less tedious.

Having a strong online presence is an important factor in the success of your business, and having a conversation with your customers in the comments section on review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Trip Advisor is a huge part of that. It’s unfortunate that so many startups fail in the first 5 years simply because business owners struggle when it comes to managing their online presence.

Closing

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are always looking for new tools that help small business owners manage their online presence, so stay tuned.

How Successful Companies Respond to Tweets

planeThere’s no shortage of people on the internet sharing advice on the best and worst ways to respond to negative feedback. A lot of it seems like common-sense: be kind, be prompt, offer an apology. Still, as much as fighting fire with fire seems like an obvious no-no, keeping cool can be difficult when faced with harsh criticism. Hearing nasty words about your company isn’t easy, especially when a lot of people can see it, so your gut reaction may be to go on the defense. You can brush up all you want on the do’s and don’ts, but it doesn’t change the fact that negative Tweets can often leave you at a loss for words. Likewise, even words of praise can prove difficult. How do you show your customer’s your appreciation in a way that is personable? Sometimes, it helps to take a hint from the pros.

Quick Response Times and Problem Solvers

Airlines probably get the most abuse in terms of customer reviews. Think about it, one thing goes wrong and it’s the end of the world. Travelers are often overtired, jet lagged and in a hurry to get home or begin their trip. No one writes a scathing review like an unsatisfied vacationer who has a delayed flight or missing baggage. Jet Blue usually responds to online comments within an hour. Their Twitter feed is impressive! People experiencing flight concerns, luggage hassles, Wi-Fi or boarding issues are less likely to post a negative review if they receive speedy social media replies. Sometimes a negative comment will be retracted and replaced with a positive one. As long as you show your support and demonstrate that your company is working its hardest to deliver the best services available everything will be just fine! Just use Jet Blue as your guiding Twitter source.

Always empathetic, Jet Blue demonstrates their ability to empathize with unhappy customers. In this instance, it took them 30 minutes to resolve an issue during a flight.

The Client is Always Right

A client is always right, even when they’re not. Customer satisfaction means knowing that whatever the circumstance, the client is top priority. No matter how upset, angry or insulting their feedback is; always respond professionally and empathetically. The professionalism will reflect positively on your brand and makes it easier for people to voice their opinion.

Personalized Responses

Just apologizing and directing an unsatisfied client to a helpline or saying a generic thanks to a raving review is not enough. Show your customers that what they say matters and make your replies personal. What are you more likely to respond to; a massive text for a party or a friend’s personal invite?  Exactly. You want to directly tag people, use personalized well written responses, and refrain from all things mechanical, generic and impersonal.  When you actively engage with online followers, you’ll gain more visibility and improve ratings. Zipcar is known for their positive responses to clients who are either frustrated or satisfied with services.

Have Some Fun!

Unsure on how to respond to sarcastic twitter remarks and followers poking fun at your company? First step is to not take yourselves too seriously and maybe even poke back, in a friendly sassy way! Not only will humor detract from a rude or sarcastic comment, it’ll showcase your company as a brand that knows how to have fun and can take a joke. Old Spice is known for their provocative and funny Twitter feed. They respond to ridiculous posts on a regular basis and in return end up creating a lot more visibility for themselves.

Closing

So what do you do when a disgruntled customer writes a horrible evaluation online for everyone to see? Feeling offended by a biting review is normal, but the most important thing to do is to sit back, and think to yourself; am I reacting or responding? What message am I sending out and how will this reflect on the company? If I were a distraught client, how would I want customer service to respond and what would make me feel better?  Treat others the way you would like to be treated, and you’ll be more than fine!

3 Reasons Why You Should Share Yelp Reviews on Facebook

yelp yelpFacebook is a great platform for enhancing your brand image, sharing ongoing promotions, and building meaningful relationships. If you manage your company’s Facebook page and post regularly, you are likely already doing these things. However, can you be doing more? If you have a Yelp profile, you should consider sharing your customer’s positive reviews with your Facebook friends. This is one area that many businesses shy away from because it involves tooting your own horn, but you shouldn’t be afraid to share what others are saying about you, especially words of praise.

If you don’t like the idea of boasting your achievements, here are three reasons that might change your mind:

Your customers will love it!

Yelpers take writing reviews very seriously. They see it their duty to help others by sharing their experience with your company, regardless of if it was positive or negative. So, what’s in it for them? Besides perks, like free food at restaurants, Yelpers don’t really get paid. Putting a Yelp reviewer in the spotlight is like giving them a virtual slap on the back. They will love the limelight, and this exposure has the potential to opens doors of opportunity.

It’s free and easy advisement!

Word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement, and it won’t cost you a cent! Plus, Yelp makes sharing reviews via Facebook as easy as clicking a few buttons. All you need to do is log in to your business account, go to “Account Settings”, click “Change Settings” in “External Services,” then click “Connect to Facebook.” From there, all you need to do is log in to your Facebook account and click the “Allow” button. Now, all of your Yelp reviews will post to your Facebook wall. That means negative reviews, too. This something that every business will have to deal with at one point or another, even businesses with high ratings. Look at it as an opportunity to show your customers that you will go the extra mile to find a solution and fix a problem.

Others will follow suit!

Sometimes all it takes is one happy customer for positive reviews to spread like wildfire. A positive review can encourage a Facebook friend to comment or head to Yelp to share a similar experience. Sharing your Yelp reviews on Facebook grants you access to an audience you couldn’t reach on Yelp alone. Keep in mind, if you don’t want to automatically share reviews, you can always copy and paste the review as a status.

Closing

While Yelp may be more popular for those in the food and beverage industry, any business of any size can benefit from creating a Yelp profile. Once created, your customers can easily find your business location, post reviews and photos, and rate your business! Let them do most of the legwork. You work hard enough!

 

 

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