The power of Online Reviews

Over the last decade, social media has undergone massive transformation – and the change is ongoing.

online reviews

Online Reviews matter for your business

While Facebook started out merely as a way for undergrads to mingle, now nearly every business has a page and works on attracting comments and ‘likes.’ Twitter was once most useful to celebrities and teenagers. Today, it’s rare to find a business that doesn’t try to interact with their customers via 140-character messages also know as ‘tweets’.

But for all the efforts poured into increasing social media presence and engagement, a recent Gallup survey suggests the payoff is uncertain. While 72 percent of almost 20,000 U.S. adults polled used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, only 5 percent said social media had “a great deal of influence” on their purchasing decisions. Meanwhile, 62 percent responded that social media had “no influence at all” and just 30 percent said social media had some influence had on their purchasing decisions.

So what does this all mean for the average business owner? We’re not suggesting you deactivate the Facebook page for your dental practice or stop tweeting promotional offers for your restaurant. Social matters – but as it turns out, not quite as much as online reviews.

Well over half of people said social media didn’t influence their purchasing decisions. Contrast that with Nielsen’s report that 70 percent of global consumers trust online reviews. Moreover, 78 percent of U.S. adults believe it’s very important to seek information about people and/or businesses online before deciding to do business with them and 74 percent would shy away from interacting with any person or business with negative information online (Harris Interactive, 2010).

No matter what industry you’re in, online reviews play a major role in attracting new business. Take dentists, for example. The number of people that said online ratings and reviews influenced which practitioner they chose shot up from 53 percent to 70 percent just in the last three years. If you are a lawyer in search of new clients, consider that 65 percent of people begin their search for representation on the Internet (NYSBA Journal).

There’s no question that a social media presence is important for all types of businesses these days. As we’ve discussed before in this space, social media accounts provide a valuable opportunity for businesses to take control of their online search results. From Facebook to Twitter to Google+, social media allows for easy ownership of your company’s digital real estate. It also facilitates smooth interaction with consumers and an avenue for customer support, if you want to provide such service in a public space. However, it’s important to keep in mind what this recent Gallup survey discovered: it’s not easy to turn likes and followers into dollars and cents. On the flip side, it’s becoming clear that a great online reputation can significantly impact your bottom line. In fact, recommendations matter more to consumers than price and brand combined and a positive digital presence motivates a consumer to pay nearly nine percent more for a product on average (Paley Center for Media).

It’s definitely worth maintaining a regular and finely-tuned social media presence. But just remember to use your time wisely. Focusing on improving your online reviews and/or attracting more feedback is far more important and valuable to your business.

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