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How many online reviews does your business have?

How many online reviews does your business haveYou probably need more. When choosing a business to buy from, customers search for reviews by other customers. If you haven’t got any, you’re in danger of being overlooked.

Don’t fear the added attention of online reviews. While you can’t control what consumers say about your brand, there are ways to foster positive reviews among your customers. Here are four steps to achieving them:

1) Expand your social horizons.

We know who the heavy hitters are when it comes to social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. When it comes to referrals, though, several other networks are worth your attention. Yelp!, OpenTable, and Foursquare are huge for customers leaving tips and reviews. Be sure to log in and see what’s being said about your business. Then…

2) Spend some time there.

While it’s absolutely necessary for your business to have a presence on multiple social channels, you can’t stop there. To get the full value of social media, you need to maintain an active, up-to-date presence on all of your business’s social outlets. If your customers see a Facebook page that isn’t updated, or see that other customers’ comments and reviews haven’t been acknowledged, they will see no value in leaving a review themselves—unless it’s negative.

This also goes for networks like Yelp! and Foursquare. Take the time to interact with customers who leave reviews. Acknowledge positive reviews and address negative reviews. You’ll encourage feedback and responses, which in turn will lead to positive referrals.

3) Ask!

Encourage your customers to leave referrals and make it easy for them to do so. This can be as simple as having a call to action on receipts, in emails, or on other marketing materials such as: “We want to hear what you think! Leave your feedback online at (insert link).” Sometimes, a simple request is all it takes.

4) Incentivize and reward.

It’s no secret that people are more apt to do something when they get rewarded for doing it. Some ideas to consider for encouraging customers to leave reviews include: awarding points toward future purchases, entering reviewers into a contest or giveaway, or recognizing them as a “brand expert” for other customers to rely on after they’ve left a number of credible reviews.

You might encounter some negative reviews. However, the positive effect of having an active, involved presence online will outweigh the risks. It will provide a perfect platform for addressing complaints when they do occur, giving you a public opportunity to turn negative into positive. That’s what effective PR and marketing is all about.

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About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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