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Top 9 Benefits of Social Media for Your Business

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Social media has certainly proven beneficial over the last two decades.

Once a communication experiment that later evolved into platforms figuring out just how much personal data people would make available to their “digital networks,” social media remains a huge part of Americans’ everyday lives.

For businesses, social media has created a way to send a brand’s messaging to the right people at the right time and hope your brand sticks out to them enough to be interested, let alone loyal throughout their lives.

There are a lot of benefits to be had from using social media.

Here are the the top nine reasons why it’s imperative for businesses to be on social media, and how it can help ensure your brand’s success.

1. Faster, Easier Communication

Customers can contact a customer service representative faster and easier now than ever before thanks to social media.

Businesses can also receive, review, and respond to customers’ grievances faster and easier than ever before.

Depending on the industry and the grievance, challenges may still remain, but the line of communication that once was somewhat challenging to establish is no longer nearly as difficult to do so.

It’s faster now than ever before to contact the right people — and oftentimes without having to even pick up a phone — and it’s only becoming easier as more people and brands use social media platforms to keep in contact with the people that matter most to their business.

Customers can now communicate real feedback in real time like never before, something businesses have strived to achieve for a long time.

2. Networking & Partnerships

In addition to the simplified lines of communication, there’s the aspect of general availability.

Let’s face it: there is a small part of the world’s population that it would be nearly impossible for most average humans to ever directly communicate with without the right kind of help (publicist, agent, etc.).

Also consider actors and actresses, athletes, and other high-profile people most of us Average Joes would never be able to interact with.

Social media helps connect us easier than ever before.

Heck, even politicians and policymakers have been incredibly available — and often faced with backlash — thanks to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

And while this makes for a fun experience when you get a “follow back” from former President Barack Obama or a retweet from your favorite rock band, it also holds endless potential for networking and partnerships that will help your brand in a multitude of ways.

Backlinks, shoutouts, increased referral visits, and increased branding are just some of those ways.

Building quality relationships becomes a lot easier with the streamlined communication we get from social media, and building relationships with key influencers earns a lot of value for your brand.

Some examples of the added value these connections facilitate are:

  • Trust from others’ networks and audience members.
  • The acquisition of quality backlinks (that offer SEO boost as well as, hopefully, an increase in referral visitors).
  • Potential business opportunities.

3. Boost Organic Visibility

There’s so much potential value to be unlocked through social media, aside from the networking and partnership-produced backlinks.

In addition to the SEO value gained from adding quality backlinks to your brand’s website (by way of social media relationships, as well as the ways social media help accumulate a variety of link types to comprise a healthy backlink profile), social media also sends relevancy signals and other signals to search engines like Google to ensure popular content is easily visible and shareable.

It’s important to understand how social media affects SEO as well.

Google has repeatedly said that social media likes, favorites, shares, backlinks, etc. are not direct ranking signals — but there is a correlation between social media activity/popularity and how/why it is ranked by search engines.

So, even though social media shares don’t serve as actual, full-value backlinks, the people, brands, and webmasters/marketers that may see your brand’s content via social media then may very well link to your brand’s content (since it’s quality content offering real value), and those backlinks would certainly hold real value.

4. Increase Website Traffic

Social media channels are supplemental to the brand’s website and, if there is one, its brick-and-mortar location.

Social media is intended to reach different audiences in a personable, useful, and entertaining way and refer those potential customers you may not have ever had the chance to engage with previously to get to know and try your business.

This works well in all cases when done correctly.

Both website traffic and foot traffic should increase accordingly with the free or cheap utility that is social media. Let your messaging reflect that.

5. Customer Feedback

In the world of business, sales, and profits, regardless of what your industry is and who you are marketing and selling to, the focus has to truly be on the customer.

And success, both digitally and traditionally, is achieved by understanding — and delivering — the best quality customer service possible, and doing everything in your power to ensure your customer and potential customers have the best possible experience with your company.

Of course, the product or service you are selling should also be good, but there are always going to be unhappy customers. How we respond to the customers — regardless of how “good” or “bad” their feedback may be — is imperative to your business’s online success and its longstanding reputation.

Social media helps us maintain that reputation by giving us platforms to directly interact with our customers like we never have before. That also means we are receiving real customer feedback directly from the source, faster than ever before (and usually much more raw, too).

Businesses should be using this amazing opportunity to build their brand as a true, consumer-first operation, eventually building the brand’s reputation into one that can never be mistaken and is relied on for many years by an ever-growing customer base.

6. Impress Potential Customers

Keeping in line with maintaining your brand’s respected reputation is the opportunity to impress potential customers with how you’ve handled other, typically unrelated customer interactions.

People often turn to — even rely — on social media and online-review sites to get a good idea of just who a company truly is. Just like marketers, consumers are using social media as a tool to help them make better purchases and decisions in general.

On average, people take into account 10 reviews of a local business before making a purchasing decision. This gives potential customers the chance to see that businesses truly care about their customers even after they’ve made the sale that is so important to them and their business’s success.

7. Branding

While branding essentially involves each numbered entry listed in this column, it’s important to stress it as one of (if not the) most valuable capabilities of social media.

You may not see as high of a conversion rate via social media (depending on the business and sales structure) as you do other marketing mediums (paid search, organic search, etc.), but the impression a brand gives off and the reputation it built can be greatly enhanced and showcased through social media.

Messaging across social platforms allows us to talk about what’s most important to our customers, and lets us train them to keep our brands at the top of their mind when those important buying decisions need to happen.

Each platform is different in terms of what it does well, the demographics of the audience using it, and the kind of content (and timing of its publishing) you see posted regularly. Each brand’s messaging should be tailored as such.

And while your business’s conversion rate is likely going to be lower on social media than it is via email marketing or paid search, your business goal is always going to be conversions, so maximizing them on all available channels is really the name of the game.

Here are are some tips for increasing social media conversions.

During a business’s branding journey across social media, you’re able to talk about what’s important to the brand and its customers. Tell your brand’s story; build the legend as what it’s worth to the people who have devoted their lives to building it.

Share your passion and let others understand and support your brand. That is the real power of social media, and the biggest impact social media has on most brands.

You can show off your brand culture and personality, stand out among the rest for the traits that make your brand different, and attract new, quality employees and further improve your business even more.

8. Track Your Competition

Social media channels also allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of not just other marketing tactics and practices, but also with the tactics used by direct competitors.

And we can learn a lot from our competition.

No one is perfect, and we can all learn something. The ultimate goal is having the customer understand us and depend on us for our authoritative approach within our niche over our competition.

Our competitors are aiming to do the same things as us (establish and protect brand reputation and ultimately sell its products/services), so it’s worth us monitoring and finding out ways our business can do better to educate and entertain users, as well as the things our brand does well, and ways we can get better across the board.

9. User-Generated Content & Crowdsourcing of Ideas

User-generated and crowdsourced content isn’t just free and unique; it can also be awesome.

The larger the audience, the more potential the content has to really impact a brand and its messaging. Brands will receive and be able to (usually) use this sometimes-quality content — videos, images, infographics, memes, etc. — with proper permission, of course.

Social media allows us to ask for this user-generated content, then receive it directly, but there is quite a bit going in between all of that, too.

Most brand will have people post their content with specific hashtags. So, the brand isn’t just receiving the content; the content is actually being posted throughout social networks (being seen by each person’s network individually, as well as the brand and it’s network), and equipped with the required hashtags and other “requirements” (which usually includes following the brand, sharing directly with a certain number of connections, and plenty of others.

Getting the Most Out of Social Media

Each business has different goals and ways it measures success.

Social media can help achieve those goals, but it’s important to stick to the basics and use them in ways that help your brand succeed.

Every brand is different. Let yours shine on social media.

MARKETING

How to ask customers for reviews (and actually get them)

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ss-rating-review-stars

ss-rating-review-stars

Outside of the food and hospitality industry, it can be a real struggle for businesses to get positive reviews.


Consumers don’t typically review their landscaper, gym, car rental agency and many other business types that they interact with on a daily basis unless something goes wrong.


Because of this, we talk daily with companies who do outstanding work and have a great real-world reputation but have more negative online reviews than positive ones.


For business owners, this disparity between offline and online reputation is beyond frustrating. So what’s a business owner or general manager to do when they find themselves in this situation?


Ask happy customers for reviews.


Tip the review balance back in your favor by getting those happy customers to be your online advocates. Below, I’ll share some tips, best practices and tests you can run to get more positive reviews.

Is it okay to ask for reviews?


But first, you may wonder: Is it okay to ask for reviews? For Google, the answer is a resounding “yes.”


Yelp, however, has much stricter guidelines when it comes to requesting reviews. Currently, Yelp prohibits businesses from requesting reviews in any way, shape, or form. One potential loophole to these guidelines is to request reviews verbally, either over the phone or in person.


You can ask a customer to search “[business name] Yelp” in Google, or “[business name] [location] Yelp” if your business has more than one location. This should lead the customer right to your Yelp listing.


You’ll also want to make sure the customer does not leave a review inside of your office/store, as Yelp may see the location and flag the review as solicited. One of the most important things to remember is to never offer a direct link to your Yelp listing, as this is one of the quickest ways Yelp can flag a review, or set of reviews, as solicited.


If you’d like to avoid Yelp guideline violations or potentially having your Yelp listing removed altogether, we suggest sticking to Google and other review platforms when requesting new reviews.


Remember to check each review site’s guidelines, as they may differ on what requests avenues are or aren’t allowed.


Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in…

The gold standard: Asking in person


There’s no better way to ask for, and get, reviews than to do it in person. The person-to-person request is incredibly effective, particularly if the requester has spent much time with the customer. We’ve found that asking in person can garner you seven to eight times more reviews than asking via email.


Let’s take a furniture store as an example. A sales associate might spend an hour or more helping customers pick and customize just the right couch for their home. They get to know each other over the course of that time and talk about where they’re from, their families and so on. A mini-bond is built in the time spent together.


At the end of the sale, there is now no person better positioned to ask for a review than this sales associate. The associate can explain that it helps other customers who are researching them and gives a true perspective on the business.


If you’re thinking about asking customers for reviews, try to figure out the customer touch points and who within the company builds the deepest relationship with the customer. That is likely the person who should be asking for reviews.


To make the process as simple as possible, you can display QR codes at the checkout counter or on a promotional flier given to the customer that links directly to your review site.

The ‘tip’ trick


The “tip” trick is one of those review growth hacks that can work great in particular industries. The strategy is that someone who has spent a lot of time with a customer then asks for a review but throws in the kicker of, “If you had a good experience and include my first name in the review, the company gives me a $10 tip.”


This little “sweetener” gives a customer the extra incentive to leave an online review, particularly if he or she had a good experience.


We’ve seen this strategy work best with services provided in and around customers’ homes. This includes landscapers, exterminators and movers.


The service providers work hard, and people sometimes want to tip them for their work; this strategy gives customers a free way to tip someone who did a good job.


For the right companies, this can drastically accelerate the number of reviews that come in.

Asking via email


Asking for reviews via email is a bit trickier. There are cases where you don’t have a lot (or any) face time with a customer. In those instances, email may be your only option.


If you’re going to ask for reviews via email, we strongly encourage you to pre-screen your customers via an internal survey before following up with another email asking them for a public review. While this may sound like cheating, it’s no different from what you would do in person.


If someone is clearly upset, you wouldn’t ask them for an online review. Likewise, using triggers from an internal survey allows you to apply this same human logic, just algorithmically.


Here are some of the best practices for your email request letter:

  • Have the email come from a real person’s email address (Even better, have it come from a name they’d recognize, such as someone they worked with).
  • Have the email written as a personal request from that same person.
  • Have a very clear call-to-action link/button. Remove random social media or website footer links — just as with good conversion rate optimization, have a singular goal of users clicking the review button.
  • Test using a plain-text email versus an HTML email.
  • Test different subject lines: We’ve found that using the person’s name in the subject line works well in many instances but falls completely flat in a few others.
  • Test different email copy to see what performs best.


As with any good campaign, test everything until you’re getting the best conversion-to-review rate possible (not just open rate). Email will almost never perform as well as asking in person, but it can still be very effective at scale.

An organizational initiative


We’ve seen that reviews tend to be a slow trickle until getting them is truly adopted as an organizational initiative, not just some side project done by marketing.


The best strategies for making reviews a priority across an organization include:

  • Making better reviews a top-down focus. Executives need to communicate the importance.
  • Obtaining organizational buy-in on the importance of reviews by helping employees understand the direct impact they have on the business.
  • Training key employees on how to ask for reviews.
  • Developing a scorecard that tracks reviews by locations (similar to our SERP score, but for reviews).
  • Providing bonuses and awards for the locations that have the best online reviews.
  • Putting the C-suite behind the online reviews initiative is the absolute best way to get action to be taken.

Fight back


Simply asking for reviews starts to put the power back into your hands. Many business owners just throw their hands up in the air and assume there is nothing they can do. But as you can see, it’s quite the opposite.


Asking for reviews requires no special tools or technology, just a commitment to see it through. Using these strategies, you can fight back against the phenomenon of businesses (outside of the food and hospitality industry) only getting negative reviews.


This article was researched and written with the help of Dominique Jabbour.

use of this, we talk daily with companies who do outstanding work and have a great real-world reputation, but have more negative online reviews than positive.

For business owners, this disparity between offline and online reputation is beyond frustrating. So what’s a business owner or general manager to do when they find themselves in this situation?

Ask happy customers for reviews.

Tip the review balance back in your favor by getting those happy customers to be your online advocates. Below, I’ll share some tips, best practices and tests you can run to get more positive reviews.

But first, you may be wondering: Is it okay to ask for reviews? For Google, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Yelp, however, has issued conflicting statements on whether or not you’re allowed to ask customers for reviews. I asked Yelp directly, and they told me that it is okay to ask for reviews as long as there is no incentivizing (See #2 in “5 Yelp facts business owners should know”). For all of the other review sites, you’ll need to check their terms of service and guidelines.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in…

The gold standard: Asking in person

There’s no better way to ask for, and get, reviews than to do it in person. The person-to-person request is incredibly effective, particularly if the requester has spent a lot of time with the customer. We’ve found that asking in person can garner you seven to eight times more reviews than asking via email.

Let’s take a furniture store as an example. A sales associate might spend an hour or more helping a customer pick out and customize just the right couch for their home. They get to know each other over the course of that time, talk about where they’re from, their families, and so on. A mini-bond is built in the time spent together.

At the end of the sale, there is now no person better positioned to ask for a review than this sales associate. The associate can explain that it helps other customers who are researching them and gives a true perspective on the business.

If you’re thinking about asking customers for reviews, first try to figure out the customer touch points and who within the company builds the deepest relationship with the customer. That is likely the person who should be asking for reviews.

The “tip” trick

The “tip” trick is one of those review growth hacks that can work really great in particular industries. The strategy is that someone who has spent a lot of time with a customer then asks for a review, but throws in the kicker of, “If you had a good experience and include my first name in the review, the company gives me a $10 tip.”

This little “sweetener” gives a customer the extra incentive to leave an online review, particularly if he or she had a good experience.

We’ve seen this strategy work best with services provided in and around customers’ homes. This includes landscapers, exterminators and movers.

The service providers work hard, and people sometimes want to tip them for their work; this strategy gives customers a free way to tip someone who did a good job.

For the right companies, this can drastically accelerate the number of review that come in.

Asking via email

Asking for reviews via email is a bit trickier. There are cases where you don’t have a lot (or any) face time with a customer. In those instances, email may be your only option.

If you’re going to ask for reviews via email, we strongly encourage you to pre-screen your customers via an internal survey before following up with another email asking them for a public review. While this may sound like cheating, it’s no different from what you would do in person.

If someone is clearly upset, you wouldn’t ask them for an online review. Likewise, using triggers from an internal survey allows you to apply this same human logic, just algorithmically.

Here are some of the best practices for your email request letter:

  1. Have the email come from a real person’s email address (Even better, have it come from a name they’d recognize, such as someone they worked with).
  2. Have the email written as a personal request from that same person.
  3. Have a very clear call-to-action link/button. Remove random social media or website footer links — just as with good conversion rate optimization, have a singular goal of users clicking the review button.
  4. Test using a plain-text email versus an HTML email.
  5. Test different subject lines: We’ve found that using the person’s name in the subject line works well in many instances but falls completely flat in a few others.
  6. Test different email copy to see what performs best.

As with any good campaign, test everything until you’re getting the best conversion-to-review rate possible (not just open rate). Email will almost never perform as well as asking in person, but it can still be very effective at scale.

An organizational initiative

We’ve seen that reviews tend to be a slow trickle until getting them is truly adopted as an organizational initiative, not just some side project done by marketing. The best strategies for making reviews a priority across an organization include:

  1. Making better reviews a top-down focus; executives need to communicate the importance.
  2. Obtaining organizational buy-in on the importance of reviews by helping employees understand the direct impact they have on the business.
  3. Training key employees on how to ask for reviews.
  4. Developing a scorecard that tracks reviews by locations (similar to our SERP score, but for reviews).
  5. Providing bonuses and awards for the locations that have the best online reviews.

Putting the C-suite behind the online reviews initiative is the absolute best way to get action to be taken.

Fight back

The simple act of asking for reviews starts to put the power back into your hands. Many business owners just throw their hands up in the air and assume there is nothing they can do. But as you can see, it’s quite the opposite.

Asking for reviews doesn’t require any special tools or technology, just a commitment to see it through. Using these strategies, you can fight back against the phenomenon of businesses (outside of the food and hospitality industry) only getting negative reviews.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

Brian PattersonBrian Patterson

Brian Patterson is partner and co-founder of Go Fish Digital, and is responsible for researching and developing strategies for Online Reputation Management (ORM), SEO, and managing web development projects. He blogs on the GFD blog and can be found on Twitter@brianspatterson.

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