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SmartBrief on: How to handle customer comments

4 min read

Marketing Strategy

We don’t always think of sites such as Yelp and Amazon as part of the social-media world. But user comments — whether they’re on a retailer’s Web site, a dedicated network or even your own blog — are really at the heart of social-media marketing. If you’re ignoring user comments, you’re missing out on huge business opportunities. If you need a refresher course in how to get the most out of Yelp, how to react to customer concerns and how to turn even a bad review into a business opportunity — read on for a roundup of relevant stories that made it into our e-mail newsletter, SmartBrief on Social Media.

10 secrets to building buzz on Yelp
Telling compelling stories and abiding by community standards are the keys to drumming up business on user-review sites, writes Yelp Boston community manager Leighann Farrelly. Most important, don’t try to force anything: Make yourself easy to find, but don’t push so hard that you invite accusations of spamming or shilling. “Positive feedback is best, and most accepted, when it comes organically from customers who have had a genuinely great experience,” Farrelly writes. “Remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity.” (3/1)

Turn negative reviews into positive buzz
Social media allows diners to instantly review a meal, but it also allows restaurateurs to respond quickly and diplomatically, writes Derrek J. Hull. Experts recommend using negative comments as an opportunity to start a conversation with customers that can ultimately leave them with a positive impression. Hull also notes that businesses should use negative comments to find ways the business can improve. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media (2/15)

Good or bad, product reviews yield sales
When Jim Hobart let his customers write product reviews on his site, he took the risk of having some comments that rates the goods as a “poor fit” and “sweaty.” But sales climbed 23% on those items that had reviews. “If they leave your site to look for reviews, they most likely won’t come back,” says a Web-customer surveyor. Small Business (9/28)

How to see PR problems coming
Social-media crises can be tough to spot early on, but there are early-warning indicators, Andy Sernovitz writes. You should step in whenever the “pointless troll comments” are actually coming from an influential figure, he notes. Seeing outrage from normally loyal fans or noticing the discussion spreading to other communities are also causes for alarm, he writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Social Media (9/24)

Google Sidewiki could turn Web into one massive network
Google is set to introduce a program that allows users to comment on any Web site and then displays comments from other users in a side bar as you peruse the Internet. Rather than personal connections, the comments displayed will be based on a number of rankings, including the users’ reputation. “Google is becoming one giant social network of sorts,” Chris Crum writes. WebProNews (Lexington, Ky.) (9/23) , Search Engine Land (9/23)

Businesses on Yelp review site can address critics
User-driven site Yelp, in response to complaints from small-business owners, has decided to change its policy to allow them to post responses to reviews of restaurants, dry cleaners and other local businesses. The change is Yelp’s latest step to improve relations with businesses. Last year, the site started letting them make changes to their profiles and interact directly with reviewers. The New York Times (4/9)

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