In today’s review-driven economy, everyone is a critic. That’s the topic of a new book by Bill Tancer, the general manager of global research at Experian Marketing Services, who makes the case for the power of internet-based consumer reviews. Startups should definitely take notes: consumer reviews on social media outlets, blogs, and comment sections of online retailers like Amazon have a hefty influence on who is buying your products.
So how can startups use this information to establish early visibility? You can’t control what your customers are writing about you, but you can set yourself up for success.
Reach out to bloggers: Bloggers exert an undeniable influence over what people are buying, and they’re essentially reviewers with big audiences. Reach out to bloggers as you would reach out to journalists. Their coverage can boost your coverage among target audiences.
Make sure you have a platform for people to review your company: Consumers can’t write you reviews if you don’t provide them with a space to do so. Make sure your social media outlets and website are active and encourage user feedback. No one is going to post a review on a site that looks like it has been collecting dust for a while. There are even review sites for your own personal brand; Check out Boston-based Dunwello.
Be responsive and positive. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, your social media accounts shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. In an age where consumer reviews might be the best free press you can get, ignoring commenters on social media is not an option. Establish your credibility as an interactive presence on social media by responding to any mentions or user reviews. Did someone write you a negative review? Don’t ignore them – be proactive and respond positively, asking if you can help. Even if you don’t end up changing their mind, the attempt will show followers that you’re invested in consumer happiness.
Highlight the good: Feature positive user reviews on your website and social media outlets, just as you would clip and share great press coverage. People like to get their information on new purchases from people who aren’t paid to write something good, so positive reviews carry extra clout with potential buyers. Pull quotes from good reviews to use in your marketing materials.
You can’t control everything, so don’t try to: Manipulating user reviews by blocking or other means shouldn’t be on your agenda. Take the good reviews with the bad, and respond where it seems reasonable. The key to winning the user review game is to let things happen organically – you can control how well you respond to reviews, not what people are writing.