How to Use Online Reviews as a PR Marketing Tool

Use Online Reviews as a PR Marketing Tool - Sad FaceOnline reviews and social media comments can be a great business marketing tool if handled right. But there are two sides to online reviews and social media comments, both positive and negative, depending on what they write about your business.

And quite often the negative side is the only side where business owners focus their dismay.

Even if you fear to be on the receiving end of a negative online review or a nasty social media comment, it is still possible to turn bad reviews and spirited social media comments into a marketing tool for your company.

Consider sending surveys to your customers to thank them for being a valued client and ask them to rate their experience at your business by offering links to online review sites and social media sites where your business is listed.

Reaching out is a proactive approach for their feedback, and it offers your business another marketing opportunity to reconnect, to show how much their opinion matters to you, and a way for them to quickly post testimonials about your business online.

Being proactive with online reviews and social media comments are becoming more important as people move to mobile phone use as their primary device and utilize social media to find a business they need. Using online review sites and social media comment engagement as a marketing tool is merely smart business PR.

Positive reviews and comments are lovely but what do you do when an unhappy customer berates you or your company on a review site or social media?

My advice? Check your emotional reactions at the door. DO NOT let emotion guide you when dealing with negative online reviews and comments. Usually, the negative publicity surrounding threats of legal action taken by business owners over negative reviews further paints the business in a bad light with the general public. So does ignoring any negative reviews or unhappy social media comments.

You have to address them publically where they exist so that potential customers see that your business holds transparency in high regard. And openness translates into trust. Besides, most complaints are from people who are disappointed because they WANT TO LIKE YOUR BUSINESS and something went wrong in the process.

It’s better to calmly respond in a positive light and invite them to your place of business or to call you to further discuss the situation.

A good opening statement is:

“We are always disappointed when our [service/product/site] doesn’t measure up to what our valued customers deserve. We appreciate you letting us know. Would you be willing to talk with our customer service manager to see if we can help make this situation right with you?”

You can also use your responses as a training tool for customers. Sometimes they are mad about circumstances outside your control such as payment gateways like PayPal not working when they attempt a purchase. Or being upset because your business isn’t open during regular business hours. You can offer simple reasons why PayPal might not be working for them and provide PayPal’s contact information. You can explain why your business operates within the working hours you have chosen and offer some solutions if hours are a problem with individual customers. Always close with inviting them to contact you directly or speak with customer service on the phone.

And remember that most people just want to be heard, so listen and respond with kindness.

Just like we learned in kindergarten!

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