Online reviews have never been as important as they are today. The ability to be perceived as a liked and trusted brand can be the difference between profit and loss, growth and decline and success and failure.
A recent report by The Drum reveals that online reviews impact purchasing decisions for over 93% of consumers. Another report conducted by Moz reveals that online reviews make up 10% of the ranking factors determining how Google displays local search results.
As an industry many people focus solely on sites such as Trustpilot, Tripadvisor and Google when implementing a review strategy, missing key channels such as Instagram and Facebook (although Google, Trustpilot and Tripadvisor should still be looked at).
To prove the importance of social media when it comes to reviews I conducted research via social listening provider Linkfluence.
I ran research using a mixture of keywords and phrases customers use when purchasing/experiencing a holiday or dining out at a restaurant (two experiences heavily influenced by online reviews)
Instagram should be central to brands working within hospitality
Image displaying the top channels for online reviews for customers dining out
Many large chain restaurants collaborate with their digital team to ensure that online reviews are created by customers who they feel have had a positive experience at one of their establishments.
From sending emails offering deals, asking for feedback on the receipts, all the way to getting a member of the waiting staff to ask directly for a review, restaurants are challenged with continually gaining and improving how people perceive their services online.
This is all well and good, however, if this has happened to you what channel did they ask you to review on? Was it Instagram? My prediction is no, Facebook maybe but rarely Instagram.
Well my digital food critics, if you are working with a brand that operates within the hospitality sector, specifically restaurants and hotels, you may want to rethink about the channel that you’re prioritising as Instagram is by far the most vocal.
Sure, it may not help with local SEO (and this is why Google reviews should still be a priority) but it does impact the customer journey and it is our jobs to ensure we are scouring all digital channels to better a user’s experience.
With 34% of online reviews being taken by diners who ‘review as they eat’ you may want to include social listening within your review management strategy to ensure you are seeing the full picture and reacting accordingly.
Facebook reviews are most impactful for holidaymakers
Image displaying the top channels for online reviews for holidaymakers
Facebook takes up (just) over half of all online reviews from holidaymakers with travellers now reviewing as they go.
From sharing images with local community pages to sending their friends updates about their travel experience (the good and the bad), Facebook is filled with hundreds of moments for people to review a service, product or brand.
Again (and I can’t stress this enough) from a search perspective you need to prioritise review sites such as Google and TripAdvisor, however make sure you are managing your social channels also as the activity taking place on these platforms will impact any pending travellers and paying customers.
How to manage online reviews from social media?
Firstly you need to be aware that just because you roll out and execute a kick ass online review strategy doesn’t mean your negative reviews will disappear. You have to monitor all reviews, track trends and understand what is and is not helping customers. If you don’t fix the issues customers are negatively reviewing you will always suffer.
I would recommend running social listening to find all of the conversations happening around your brand, remember only 30% of social mentions actually tag your brand in the post, so that leaves a staggering 70% of mentions left unmonitored.
Always sympathise with negative reviews and always publicly respond. People expect to see the occasional grievance online, but its your willingness to respond and take action that will truly make consumers trust you. Try and respond within 30 minutes of the review going live if possible, this means you can stamp out the problem and stop it from spreading. Its always best to comment on the post and take it to direct message if you need to discuss any personal details.
Never ask the customer to do something which may agitate the situation, a great example of how not to respond on social following a brand mention was Easy Jet. Following a recent scandal where a selection of seats on one of their aircrafts had no backrests, customers were quick to share the images online showing paying customers sat in the defect seats.
A social media expert responded asking for the images to be removed which (as you can see below) caused an even worse response.
Hi Matthew, thanks for bringing this to our attention, before we can investigate this could I ask you to remove the photograph & then DM us more info regarding this, so we can best assist you. Ross https://t.co/Qq2zhBAizh
— easyJet (@easyJet) August 6, 2019
*Please note it turns out that the seats were not allocated to paying customers and this was a prank, although the situation could have been solved much more efficiently.
Lastly, share the good reviews, be proud of what you have achieved. Share them on your site, social channels or even marketing materials. Allow people to see and appreciate the good work you’re doing and always celebrate the wins!