When buzz replaces bucks: social media reviews as a form of currency

Published January 23, 2015 8:56 pm by LoSasso
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These days, everyone is a food critic, a designer, a mechanic … or at least you’d get that impression from the way they exercise their right to criticize or glorify these businesses online. Social review sites have become an outlet for Joe Shmoe to become a voice of authority on anything and everything. And his peers listen. We’ve all had qualms about visiting the latest hotspot because Yelper “Jackie M.” said “service was SLOWWWW.” And while businesses continue to grasp for the five-star holy grail, a new trend is forming: social reviews as currency.

I first experienced this phenomenon when ordering catering for an office meeting several years ago. Upon forgetting money to tip the delivery driver, he suggested I leave a positive Yelp review instead—which may, he said, prove even more valuable.

I’m not the only one who offered payment in the form of online kudos. A friend encountered a similar situation: After discovering that her broken garbage disposal was simply a loose screw, the plumber waived his service fee, but suggested she might write him an Angie’s List review instead. She happily obliged.

Yet another friend recently asked a Las Vegas hotel receptionist for any available room upgrades. Yes there was one, she replied, but it would come at a price: one positive Trip Advisor review that mentioned the receptionist’s name.

So what’s the point? Should you start forgoing cash in favor of credit on popular review sites? Not necessarily, but the trend itself does underline how invaluable a positive peer-reviewed presence has become. Does your business, or your client’s business, have a plan in place to create the best online reputation possible? Start with these basic, cost-free efforts to manage your online relationships with customers:

    • Address poor reviews honestly and quickly and try to provide a way to remedy the situation.
    • Respond to positive reviews honestly and quickly to show you appreciate positive feedback.
    • When possible, solve the problem in person, before the customer takes it online.
    • If you have regularly satisfied customers, promote your Yelp or other review site page on your website and other promotional materials.

What tactics have you implemented at your company to successfully manage your online reputation?

Erin Madson, Senior Account Manager