Dealing with Negative Comments

Whenever I talk to folks about using social sites, one question is always about the potential for negative comments and what to do about them. So, I appreciated this post from MyRagan.

September 19, 2009
That One-Star Review is Costing You Money

As I prepared  for a couple of trips this summer, I found myself relying on user-generated review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp to help me make decisions about hotels and places to eat. As a result, I started to wonder about the impact of these reviews ultimately have on business. After a little research, I came across a comScore study, which offered these interesting tidbits of information:Source: comScore and The Kelsey Group, 11/29/07

  • Nearly one out of every four Internet users (24%) reported using online reviews prior to paying for a service delivered offline.
  • Of those who consulted an online review, 41% of restaurant reviewers subsequently visited a restaurant.
  • More than three-quarters of review users in nearly every category reported that the review had a significant influence on their purchase, with hotels ranking the highest (87 percent).
  • Study participants were willing to pay up to 50% more for a meal for a high user-review rating

As for the accuracy of the reviews? “Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed who said they made a purchase based on an online review said they found the review to have been accurate.”

From my perspective and the influence user-generated review had on my purchasing decisions, the study rings true.

So what’s a business to do? A great place to start is Google. Google your business and look for the “reviews” link. Google pulls reviews from multiple sources, so business owners can see which sites contain reviews. Also, check out the more popular user-generated review sites, like Yelp.com, TripAdvisor.com and OpenTable.com. Some sites, like TripAdvisor, allow the business owner to respond to specific reviews so readers can get both sides of the story. Once you get a sense of what’s out there, think about how user-generated reviews factor into your social media marketing strategy.

I think this study makes a compelling arguement regarding the impact of user-generated reviews on the bottom line. Businesses, especially hotels, restaurants and other service-related businesses, need to know that people are talking about them and it may be costing them a lot of money.