Social media is here to stay - deal with it!
Like it or not social media is here to stay and is ever more important. Some businesses refuse to accept this and still treat social media channels as an afterthought, when in fact it is an important facet of your brand. It has a global reach and has the power to make or break a business, so you need to hire a professional to take care of your online reputation. The role of a social media community manager provides a voice for your organisation and is on the frontline when it comes to engaging customers and knowing how to deal with disgruntled clients.
Why is Tripadvisor so important?
Nowadays, the internet is the fastest way to find a place to eat or to book a hotel for your holidays, which can be both good and back for your business, depending upon the type of feedback. Online comments can be left on any platform, but we’re going to concentrate on TripAdvisor, simply because it has so much clout, as the world’s largest travel site.
One of Tripadvisor’s main selling points are that businesses can use it for free and travellers get unbiased reviews. This means that as a business owner you have no control over the type of comments that people leave, other than trying to provide the best possible service in the hope that it will be enough to generate good reviews. The fact that the reviews are generally posted by real clients makes them more reliable than advertisements.
3/4 are influenced by the comments and the photos published on the site by other travellers
Why should you worry what is said on Tripadvisor?
Working under the strapline “get the truth, then go”, pretty much tells you why you need to take notice. Tripadvisor is one of the most if not the most influential online travel tools and according to PhoCusWright research; 3 out of 4 are influenced by the comments and the photos published on the site by other travellers. Their views are perceived to be honest and relevant, so much so, that millions of travellers plan their trip using Tripadvisor.
If you are wondering whether you should even be bothered to read what a few people say about you…the answer is a resounding yes and you need to be prepared. Your company’s good name is literally at the mercy of your clients and you can’t stop them posting a bad review - unless it has illegal or obscene. So what should you do if you wake up one morning and you have 50 bad reviews without warning?
How can you manage your online reputation on Tripadvisor?
First all, you need to accept that bad reviews are a real threat to your business, allocate a budget and appoint someone to monitor comments and to take care of your reputation online. The next step will be to draw up a plan of action outlining your objectives clearly, such as improve your ratings on Tripadvisor or to increase the number
of (good) reviews.
As an interim measure, you can work on improving the ratio of good to bad reviews and implement measures that will encourage clients to leave feedback. It will also give you the opportunity to identify any recurring issues and address them. If there is a genuine problem with your company, be it staff, service, quality of the product, then this should be dealt with quickly and efficiently to reduce the possibility of further bad reviews.
If possible, try and build bridges by responding calmly and apologising. Sometimes you need to let things go as some people can never be placated, so it is better just work on being the best you can.
How to use Tripadvisor for your business?
The first step to creating a link between you and your potential clients is to create a profile. However, it is also possible for customers to create a page for your company without your knowledge, so you should be vigilant. If you find that someone is already commenting about your business, you will need to look at how you can improve it.
You should provide as much detail as possible, including opening times, services, a link to your website (which should be professionally designed to appeal to your target market. The more pictures you have on your profile the better, so it is a good idea to consider using a professional photographer / videographer to make the best possible impression.
Setting up the profile is just the beginning, as there is nothing worse than seeing a dormant neglected account, as this suggests that you don’t care what your customers are saying about you. Then you need to monitor it and respond where necessary – this means if you have a bad comment, you must reply. Always respond calmly, stick to the facts and apologise, remember that the customer is always king.
7 things you need to know when managing bad comments on Tripadvisor
- Always answer bad reviews
- Be respectful, by using the right name and constructing an intelligent error free response
- Apologise, be honest and stay calm
- Provide a constructive answer to their specific issue DON’T use it as an opportunity to promote your business
- Don’t offer compensation
- Don’t mention other clients’ comments
- Show that you are serious about making improvements where required
It’s important to your remember that your credibility can be increased by making sure the other elements of your marketing are professional and consistent. Then if potential clients read a bad review they will be less willing to believe it and more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Redline’s guidelines for social media crisis management
Rumbles from the jungle
You need to listen to what is being said about your business and act promptly to address any issues to prevent escalation.
Keep it real
Don’t remove negative comments as this is dishonest and it can also enrage a disgruntled customer to escalate their negative posts. Instead tackle the post quickly, calmly, politely and above all honestly.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
If you have a small business with limited manpower and it isn’t feasible to respond in 24 hours – don’t say that you will. Instead, be honest and say 3 days… and then make sure you do it.
Address the issues raised in a thoughtful manner. You are only human and mistakes can happen, admitting errors and apologising is sometimes enough to turn a negative situation around. The Retail Consumer Report, an online study commissioned by RightNow in 2011 established that 33 per cent of customers who received a response to their negative review changed their opinion and 34 per cent removed their original comment.
It’s nothing personal
You should never post personal updates on your business account, be vigilant about switching between accounts. To avoid errors make sure only the community manager has access to your accounts.
It’s your account make your own rules
You can manage negative posts by creating your own social media terms and conditions, for example, you can clearly state that you will remove unreasonable comments. This will allow you some leeway to deal with offensive posts by pointing out that they don’t fulfil your T&Cs, but this shouldn’t be used to remove ‘negative’ comments.
In summary, although negative comments can be damaging, a quick and respectful response can often diffuse the situation and restore the company’s image. It shows that you are only human, but you care about your clients.
You can’t please everyone
Never try to justify yourself, instead try to answer each issue the customer has raised and give as much information as you can. It’s important to recognise when it’s time to give up…some people just like complaining and will never be satisfied. People will see that you tried your best, so just move on.