The Power of Consumer Dialog

December 7, 2010

The value of being engaged and creating a positive online reputation must not be underestimated. The Web provides advertisers an advantage they never had in the past.  Advertisers couldn’t join a conversation when they weren’t present.  Now, however, consumer conversations are accessible. Advertisers have the ability to demonstrate they are listening, present their position, and correct any erroneous information.  This is a powerful advantage the Web provides to advertisers!

The Power of Consumer Dialog

Today’s consumers are online and they are talking about experiences with local merchants.  Some business owners are uncomfortable and don’t know how to respond to a negative review.  It is important that business owners understand that a negative review is an opportunity.  It is wrong for business owners to fear that anyone at anytime can anonymously say something about their business while the owner has no way to defend themselves.

First, on any trustworthy review site, nobody is anonymous. Consumers who provide reviews have a profile and all of their previous ratings are shown. If someone is routinely negative, that negativity is transparent to other consumers.  Think about it this way.  If you have a friend or relative whose opinion you don’t trust, do you listen to their negative review?  Online behavior isn’t any different.  People trust opinions of like-minded people and people they trust.  Welcome to the new paradigm of how consumers make buying decisions.

Secondly, on any trustworthy review site, advertisers are encouraged to join the conversation and respond.  When responding to a legitimate negative review it is important for the advertiser to be honest, remain calm, speak like a person, and promise to do better.  It is important to respond to negative reviews, but responding to positive comments is also a good idea.  It lets consumers know that you as an advertiser is listening and cares.   It’s also a great time and way to link consumers back to key content on your website or an online discount.

Business owners may fear that managing their online reputation will be time-consuming.  Unfortunately, if managing one’s online reputation isn’t a priority for a business owner their business will struggle to find new customers and retain current ones.   For many advertisers their digital footprint is fragmented and growing without their knowledge. Consumer reviews can and are dramatically affecting your business.  The great news is that business owners can now keep abreast of those reviews and engage in a timely manner simply by listening.

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