Making Your Social Media and Review Sites Work For You

There are two sides of the coin with social media and the review sites. Your business has to be using them to survive.. but you also can’t rely on them.

Last week, we talked about the first three common marketing mistakes Independent Business Owners make. Wasting money on marketing too broadly, not focusing on getting more customers like your best customers and making marketing decisions based on emotion, not facts. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

This week, we’ll delve into the mistakes that are made in this age of social media and the review sites.  It used to be that you would advertise in the yellow pages and people would find you. If someone had a complaint, they’d pull you aside or fill out a comment card.  Now, it’s all on the internet permanently for the world to see. People consider the internet the be all the end all place for information.

Your online presence is often the first thing people will judge your business on. That means your website, social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok and the review sites are key parts of your marketing strategy.

But you can not rely on them solely.  That’s like trying to stand on a one-legged stool.

Be At The Top Of The Review Sites

What you say about your business isn’t nearly as valuable as what others are saying.  People are skeptical.  They won’t do business with someone they don’t trust. They won’t frequent a business with a bunch of bad reviews or a low star ranking. ALL of your marketing, especially your website, needs to include glowing testimonials from your customers. This establishes your credibility. It’s the new reality, you need to claim your review site listings and keep them updated so you can use the positive comments in all your marketing. 

Your business needs to be at least in the first page of results, and ideally in the top three, when someone searches “your business type in your town”. If you aren’t ranking high on the Google search rankings, you are missing out on the best source of new customers.  And to rank high, you need a steady flow of positive new reviews.

It’s a mistake to not have a system in place to ask your happy customers for their positive comments on your review sites.  Inevitably, someone won’t be happy and will leave you a negative review. It’s unavoidable.  But a negative review will soon disappear down the list when you have a constant source of fresh new positive reviews.

It’s also a mistake if you aren’t going onto the review sites and interacting with those that leave reviews.  A simple thank you, and a word or two to make it personal, shows that you are paying attention. A response to a negative one, to offer to solve the problem and make things right, will help mitigate any potential impact.  Find a way to capture your happy customers comments and ask them to post the on the online review sites to provide a constant stream of new positive reviews to generate new customers and establish your credibility.

Own Your Customer List

Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok… everyone wants to be an ­influencer. And there is certainly a lot of value in your business’ social media presence, but you can’t just create an account page and expect it to benefit you. You must have a strategy that continually provides compelling content and… here is the important part… consistently converts your followers into sales.

To put this in context, do you know how much money your followers have spent with you? Do you have a process to invite them into your business and get them in a database you own and control? Do you have a process to get them to refer you to other potential customers? If you have a large social media following, or are working to build one, it’s important to remember that those followers may or may not have ever given you money in the past. They may not even live near your business. They may just like what you post, or they may be interested in your business for a separate reason all together. And the worst case, if your social media site is hacked, shut down, or limited due to regulation changes, you have no control and no way of communicating with those followers. You do not own the list of your followers.

Over the years we’ve had clients face fires, ­floods, road closures, renovations, etc. and Covid-19 was certainly an eye-opener to how a crisis can impact your business. It is a mistake to rely on social media followers as your main communication source for marketing your business. You can post as much as you want, but whether or not you appear in your followers’ feeds relies on a mysterious, always changing algorithm designed to work best for the social media site, not you.

Have a list that you control, of your actual paying customers, so you can communicate directly to them in multiple ways, reward them for their loyalty, increase transaction size and frequency of visit to solidify the relationship you are creating.

Use Multiple Methods Of Communication

There are may ways to communicate your marketing message to your customers.  But which one is right?  And which one brings you the best return on investment?  The answer is ALL of them.  No one method works the best – they work best in conjunction with each other.  It is a mistake to reply on only one form of media, especially if it is solely digital.  It’s a digital world, and you need to be in it, but while inexpensive and powerful, email and texting are only pieces of the puzzle.

We are all inundated with email, and many emails, especially now with various filters, may NOT be seen or read. If no one opens your email, it’s never read.  If it’s never read, no one walks in the door as a result.  If an email is opened it needs to create an emotional bond or inspire any action because the email itself doesn’t create an “experience”.  It needs to be so compelling that it forces people to act, which is no easy feat. But it is a great, inexpensive way to maintain regular communication with the small percentage of people (usually your most rabid fans) that open your emails.

While perceived as antiquated, postal mail still brings in the highest return on investment of any marketing you can do. Think about what you receive in the mail these days, it’s likely not a lot. It gives you the marketing advantage of an empty playing field.  Plus, it’s incredibly easy to measure – you know how many you mail and when people redeem them and hand them to you, you have tangible way to track response.  42.2% of direct mail recipients either read or scan the mail they get, compared to the number of emails that get opened at 4-8%. With mail, you have a much higher likelihood of getting the response you want because it is a physical reminder to visit your business.

Let’s face it, no one prints an email and puts it on their fridge.

All the medias have their pros and cons, but the best method is a multimedia approach using a combination of all the different formats (email, texting, mail, search engine, social media, app notifications) to connect with the customer however it best suits them so they see the message multiple times. Each “marketing touch” reaches out to different groups of your guests that respond to different marketing media, and provides a cohesive marketing strategy so no one falls through the cracks.

That’s a solid stool to stand on. If you would like some help narrowing down your focus and finding ways to better marketing your business, you can schedule a free Marketing Strategy Session with one of our marketing experts. They can provide insight into the latest technology, proven marketing strategies, or offer advice on how to best target your marketing. We don’t have any hidden agenda, if you like what we do we can continue to work together. If not, you can take the information from your strategy session and put it to work in your business. Our strategies are proven to work for Independent Operators. We’re like your own personal coach, here to provide support and guidance along the way.