With so many different social media and business listing platforms that enable your company to increase its online visibility, search ranking, and general web presence, it is impossible for one person to have enough time to cover all of them. So, on which platforms should you concentrate your valuable time and efforts in order to get more reviews for your business?

This article touches on the primary benefits and importance of business reviews. It also outlines the most strategic, efficient tactics to leverage your existing resources via social media in order to generate new, positive reviews for your company.

Increased Online Presence

Often referred to as 1 form of “social signals” in industry jargon, customer reviews contribute to Search Engine Optimization, increasing your search ranking, thereby making prospective customers more likely to find your business. In other words, more reviews increase the likelihood of you being able to drum up new clientele and revenue – simply because you are easier to find.

Increased Social Search

Somewhat related to the topic above – SEO – is the idea of “social search”. There has been a recent and significant surge in dialogue surrounding this concept of “social search” (i.e., people finding you or your company on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Just a few years ago, the term – social search – did not even exist. This is because (up until recently) the content that you published on social media platforms made 0 impact on your search ranking and online visibility. In other words, content published via social media did not contribute to your search ranking, or even get taken into account for SEO from the perspective of search engines. However, the quality and consistency of the content published on your website, in particular, did make a HUGE impact on your searching rankings. Well, unbeknownst to many, this is no longer the case. In fact, it is entirely different. The same rules that existed 1-2 years ago do not still apply.

Today, not only is all of the content you publish on social media platforms taken into account from the perspective of search engines in raking your business, but who it is that finds, engages with, and/or shares your published content on social media also is a major factor in your search ranking.

In short, SEO now takes into account which social media platforms you have established online presences for your company on, how many different social platforms you are on, how many followers you have, your level of activity on your accounts (i.e., posting volume), what the content of your posts consist of, etc. Other factors include but are not limited to number of tweets, retweets, Google+ authorship, and a wide array of other “social signals” related to you and your business (e.g., social search is able to prioritize content and people that are connected to you through a Facebook friend, Twitter follower, or connection via an alternative social network).

Improved Perception and Increased Credibility

Customer reviews significantly improve the public’s perception of you and your company’s credibility, degree of subject matter expertise as it relates to your particular business vertical, and – more generally – your overall level of authority. For example, if you do a search for “plumbers near me”, you will see multiple business listings in your search results. Who are you most likely to call to fix your plumbing issue: A) the business that has 0 reviews? B) the business that has a handful of 2-star and 3-star reviews? or C) the business that has a dozen 5–star reviews, along with authentic customer testimonials? Probably option C, right? Right.

How to Generate More Reviews

So how do you generate more customer reviews in your social media marketing campaign? Follow these steps:

1.Ensure that you already have accounts established on platforms where customers can actually leave reviews (i.e., sites where people can write comments and/or leave star rankings. Not websites that are exclusively business listings, and that don’t have review functionality that enables customer interaction).

You will want to have particular platforms identified before making requests for reviews in your social media marketing initiatives (so that you can seamlessly guide customers to the  appropriate site/platform, and make it as easy as possible for them to leave the review). If you create ‘friction’ in the user experience, or make it difficult/time-consuming for customers to give you reviews, they are much less likely to actually do so vs. a simple and straightforward process.   

2.Make sure that platforms on which people can leave reviews are easy to find and readily accessible to the public. For example, you will want to have buttons & icons that link directly to each platform on the header of your website’s homepage. You will also want to “connect” your social media accounts on the back-end of each social platform (just login to your account – whatever platform you are already on – and go to account settings, where you will see a “connect accounts” ability – simply toggle the button to ‘on’. Last, create and publish social media posts with links from one of your accounts to another (e.g., tweet out a URL connecting to your Facebook page, and explicitly request in the tweet that you’d appreciate any prior clientele who might willing to review your company on Facebook – by simply leaving a rating via the link you tweet out)

3.Now it’s time to ask your customers (i.e., make a social media post). Provide a clear, specific, and explicit call to action – requesting prior customers to either leave feedback about their experiences working with you (on your review platform of choice, which you should direct them to), or – as an alternative, simply post something along the lines of “if you’ve worked with us before, we would greatly appreciate you rating us on [X platform]. Two seconds of your time would go a tremendous way for us”.

Understanding your target audience and what interests them is critical to getting their attention and having your request heard – keep this in mind when drafting content for your social media posts on any platform. If you can’t get people to see your review generation requests, then you certainly will not be able to generate new reviews. By simply following the steps above, you’ll be able to successfully drive reviews to help increase your online presence and increase trust to ultimately drive more conversions.

Michael Rausher is a researcher, and regular contributor to TrustRadius, where he shares his knowledge of the latest trends in B2B news and software.

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