Do you know what people are saying about your business? More importantly, do you know where people are saying it? In the newly released Franchise Playbook for Localized Social Marketing, SOCi is revealing everything you need to know about managing your business’ reputation at both a franchise and corporate level.
It all starts with understanding the relevant review platforms. Here are the main sites to get familiar with, and some advice for how you can leverage these tools as a franchise marketer.
Social media was built for — and thrives on — folks asking for recommendations on just about anything. More people are turning to Facebook first to get those opinions and recommendations. But just like everything in the digital world, Facebook’s interface is constantly changing. Most recently, the platform ditched the star ratings and reviews system in favor of its new Recommendations feature.
Users can share their yes/no recommendation and explain their choice with tags, text and photos. Facebook believes this new system will inspire users to leave more authentic feedback while providing companies with a deeper understanding of their customers’ experiences. Recommendations is a hub for customer-generated stories about your brand that will appear on your page and across Facebook as people search for your business.
This latest change is just another reason to keep close tabs on your digital footprint and present a united front of consistent messaging. Be sure to respond to recommendations as well as additional comments that customers may leave on your posts. Facebook hopes that its new Recommendations feature will give businesses more authentic feedback, which can be a powerful thing for businesses that keep close tabs on the sentiment surrounding their company. Pay close attention to Facebook Recommendations so you can adjust your business accordingly.
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Google My Business
When most people think of review sites, they think of Yelp first and foremost. That’s why some are surprised to learn that, according to a report created by SOCi, Google is now the No. 1 ratings and review site for multi-location businesses in terms of total volume. We found that from 2017 to 2018, Google’s base of reviews grew by 278 percent. That tremendous growth catapulted Google to the top of the review platform category, ahead of both Facebook and Yelp.
You can think of Google My Business as a one-stop shop for your business’ info, reviews, and customer interaction. That last point is key, because — according to the Google My Business support page — responding to reviews can actually help your business get in front of customers more consistently when they’re searching on Google.
Google My Business does have two additional features that franchisors should pay attention to; Google Posts and Google Q&A. These features give franchisors the power to leverage their online presence, interact with customers in real time and boost engagement. Business owners can harness the power of Google Posts by posting localized content such as special offers and local events. These posts will stay up for seven days unless the post is about an event, in which case it will stay up until the day of the event. Google Posts is another touch point between you and your customers that should be leveraged as such.
The other feature to monitor — Google Q&A — gives businesses the ability to respond to crowdsourced questions and clear up misconceptions. It’s vital that you respond to these questions about your business because customers can fill in answers on their own if you don’t.
Yelp is a leading local guide for “real word-of-mouth” on everything from hardware stores to coffee shops. Although Google My Business and Facebook have surpassed Yelp in the number of new reviews, Yelp remains a review powerhouse in most industries and should not be ignored. Yelpers have written more than 171 million reviews – with 68 percent of those posted with 4 or 5 stars, according to Yelp statistics. If you haven’t yet, claim and optimize your local business page to leverage Yelp’s power to boost your overall SEO, build buzz and drive local sales. The platform averages more than 178 million unique visitors each month, and these visitors are poised to make a purchase.
The best way to improve your Yelp presence is by paying attention to your profile. Reply to reviews, offer check-in specials, and install the Yelp review widget on your brand website and local landing pages. Yelp offers robust analytics to measure and track success, so take advantage of this opportunity to see what your customers are saying.
In conclusion, there are dozens of major review sites where customers can choose to write online reviews. The sites listed above are the most popular, and the primary ones you should take into account when creating your marketing strategy. However, each industry has other relevant review sites that must also be included. Companies must stay focused on those platforms where their consumers are already engaging, yet be nimble in their localized strategy to adapt to the changing world of reputation management.
Review sites are only part of the equation when it comes to localized marketing, as we discuss in the full version of The Franchise Playbook for Localized Social Marketing. The comprehensive guide is specifically designed to guide franchise marketers through the world of digital marketing on a local level. Whether you’re marketing one location or one hundred locations, a smart locally-focused digital marketing strategy can expand the reach of your brand and create genuine connections.