Social media has given birth to the age of the consumer. A single voice now has such power to shape the opinions and influence the behaviours of thousands of friends and followers. But “with great power comes great responsibility”. And we really need to be more careful.
We’re Killing Small Business
We’re increasingly turning to our virtual friends for recommendations on everything from restaurants to reliable auto mechanics. And in turn, we’re more than happy to spread the word about our own experiences: the good, the bad and the downright nasty.
As a social media marketer, I see negative reviews on local businesses every day which are often followed by comments like, “Wow Amy, I’ll never shop THERE again.” “Thanks for letting us know.” “Sharing!” The negativity spreads like a virus. And it’s working. More often than not, the damage is done before the business owner even has a chance to respond.
Have you seen the story about the wedding photographer who was forced to close her business because a disgruntled customer unleashed a hate-filled online campaign against her? What about the boutique hotel in Ireland who received a scathing online review?
These stories are becoming increasingly common. With somewhere between 67 percent and 90 percent of consumers looking at a product’s reviews before they decide to make a purchase, reviews matter.
If you don’t have anything nice to say…
...Choose your words carefully. We all have a voice and that voice has been further magnified by social media. It’s wonderful that we’re able to help educate friends and fellow consumers based on our experiences but we need to understand the ramifications of our words. In fact, a single negative review can drive away approximately 22 percent of customers.
There’s a difference between writing an honest, well presented review about a business and just plain venting. Have a read through the following To Post or Not to Post Checklist to ensure you’re posting a review and not a defamation.
1. Have you calmed down? The ‘heat of the
moment’ is never a good time to write a review.
2. Did you make every attempt to rectify the situation offline?
3. Are your words helpful or hurtful?
4. Is your review factual?
5. Are you prepared for the repercussions?
#5, cont. On the plus side, your negative review could result in a change to business practices. On the downside, it could lead to lost revenue, a firing, or in the absolute worst case, the business closing.
Small businesses are fighting back
Whether it’s a witty tweet reply or a slow burn response to a TripAdvisor review, it’s clear that business owners no longer accept that the ‘customer is always right’. Especially when they’re wrong.
That wedding photographer mentioned above actually took the customer to court and was awarded $115 thousand in damages. An up & coming network marketing company is suing a number of individuals for operating websites and blogs that disparage the quality of their products.
Be Kind to One Another
Apply Ellen Degeneres’ advice to the virtual world. If you feel the need to write a negative review, try to make it constructive and lead with kindness. When you receive exceptional service, be just as passionate about posting a positive review. See a painful review on your favourite local business? Resist the urge to respond directly and instead counter with a kind word or two.
#SupportLocal doesn’t just mean shopping at your neighbourhood farmer’s market or family-owned shoe store. It takes more effort to ‘think twice and be nice’ than it does to troll behind the apparent safety of a screen. Before you click the ‘post’ button, understand that your words have an impact on real people, yourself included.
Feel free to share this article with your connections, especially those Keyboard Cowboys.
Positively yours, Jennifer
Jennifer Iannuzzi is a seasoned copywriter, content marketing expert and founder of ifixtext.com. She works with company founders to position their solutions for success.