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Ignoring Bad Reviews? Bad Strategy.

Facebook RatingOnline reviews can have a huge impact on your organization – whether you’re monitoring them or not. It’s time to pull back the curtain on your online reputation and start taking control of the conversation.

We’ve recently covered importance of verifying your local listing to be sure that your youth sports organization is represented properly across the web.

Taking it a step further, we explained the importance of reviews and how they can act as a major distinguishing factor when search engines differentiate your organization from competitors in the local listings.

But with local consumer reviews continuing to rise in popularity, verifying your local address is just the tip of the iceberg.

In an annual survey from BrightLocal, the 2014 results once again confirmed the growing importance of online reviews in consumer purchasing decisions. A whopping 88 percent of participants admitted that they regularly read reviews to determine the quality of a local business.

Not only are readers looking for reviews, they’re looking for a large enough quantity of feedback to sway them in the right direction. Approximately 67 percent of consumers said they read up to 6 reviews during a search; 85 percent admitted to reading through 10 reviews; and 7 percent scan over 20 reviews before feeling reassured in their decision.

As review popularity grows, so does the number of platforms available for consumers to provide them.

A Nielsen survey which questioned over 28,000 Internet users, concluded that 92 percent of all consumers said they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

What does this mean for your organization?

Not only are local listings and Google reviews a crucial part of your business, but now it’s more important than ever to include the reviews on social media platforms like Facebook and Yelp while creating your business strategy.

Facebook

When consumers visit your Facebook page, they can access a “Reviews” section on the left side of the Page’s Timeline. Visitors can choose a star rating, write an optional comment, and select their publishing audience (Public, Friends).

With the actual comment portion of the review being optional, it’s more important than ever to monitor the star ratings that are being left on your page. A low score with no explanation can still influence other visitors’ overall perception of your brand.

Yelp

Sites like Yelp are specifically designed to gather reviews of local businesses. People are using Yelp to search for everything from restaurants to doctors.

Google released an updated algorithm in 2014, giving more prominence to sites like Yelp. In many instances, Yelp listings are now ranking at the top of search engine results pages – often above the business’ website.

There are three simple steps to setting your organization up with a Yelp listing so you can start accumulating your reviews:

1. Type the name of your organization into the search box. If you are not listed in the Yelp database, follow the “Can’t find your business? Add your business to Yelp” link at the bottom of the page and continue to an application form.

2. Yelp will then send you a verification link. Click the link and automatically get added to a review queue.

3. Once accepted, add personalized information to your page.

Positive Reviews, Please

Every business is destined to face a negative review at some point in time. It’s the businesses that are the best at dealing with negative customer reviews that will have the best chance at staying highly ranked in search engine results pages.

Luckily, there are a few universal techniques that every organization can apply when responding to negative feedback:

Don’t take negative remarks personally. Treat your position as a problem solver, someone who takes in the complaints, apologizes, and then providers your consumer with a solution that can potentially change their negative perception of you.

Join the conversation. Unanswered reviews are only showing one side of the story. Responding to each comment publicly let’s other observers witness how your organization explains the negative review, which steps have been taken to remedy the complaint, and how dedicated your organization is to providing superior service.

Stick closely to standard company policies to avoid further conflict. If your company does not have a policy for resolving customers’ complaints, create a standard set of rules to adhere by to ensure each review is treated with the same quality of professionalism. Include a set time duration during which the company representative should reply to a review, choose whether to make your response public or private, and decide which platform suites your organization best when responding to customers.

Encourage positive reviews. Don’t be afraid to take initiative and ask flattering reviewers to post on review sites. If satisfied customers are eager to share their positive feedback with you, odds are they’ll be happy to share with other potential customers too.

Most importantly, continue to monitor your reviews. If negative reviews remain sitting, unanswered, on your social media and search pages your organization could be losing a potential customer each time a visitor reads those remarks. Continue to monitor what is being said about your brand online so you can work your way towards positive reviews.

How are you handling your organization’s online reviews? Let us know in the comments below!

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Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the Executive Vice President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2007.