Business owners are renowned control freaks, and that’s often a good thing. After all, you want to know and, to a certain extent, manage each and every aspect of your business in order to ensure your vision is being met. Perhaps that’s why some business owners fear the “business directory” corner of social media; it’s a land where anyone with a keyboard can say nearly anything they please about the services and products you offer.
Social media marketers (such as Davis Advertising’s expert and creative web development team) will tell you, however, that there is nothing to fear. Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Citysearch and the rest should be managed just as one would manage any other marketing messages pertaining to your business.
The first step is to become an “owner” of your company’s profile at each of these sites. At Yelp for example, having a Business Account allows you to respond, both publicly and privately, to reviews posted by customers. Business owners should think of this as an opportunity to apologize if a negative review has merit, improve upon the service if possible, or politely refute the reviewer’s assertions while emphasizing the company’s merits.
Refuting negative assertions, however, should be done with care. As Yelp itself reminds us, “your reviewers are paying customers;” are “human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities;” and are “vocal and opinionated.” Therefore, one should be wary of triggering an ongoing—and public—argument by calling the reviewer a liar or even by directly responding to controversial statements.
Instead, take the high road. Respond by reminding readers of your company’s best attributes and, if you feel the review did include legitimate concerns, tell your readers that you are addressing or have already addressed those concerns.
In general, your strategy regarding online review sites should mirror your overall marketing strategy. Be proactive, be assertive. Do not fear, run or hide from the Yelp!