Social Media is Word of Mouth on Steroids

A price averse prospect posts a miffed “review” on a ratings site, smacking a respected company with a public black eye. An architect writes in a Linked In Group that remodeling prices are way down, spurring a feeding frenzy of homeowners expecting deep discounts. An employee lists where he works on his obscenity-laced Facebook page, prompting prospective clients doing due diligence on the company to write it off in a hurry.

Whether or not you’ve embraced social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and/or blogs, it’s becoming essential to actively listen to them. Online conversations are windows into unfiltered opinions, experts say — insights that can help you improve, as well as to engage and build trust on a personal level. So, to get started...

Create automatic alerts. Free tools such as Google Alerts can reveal when your name (or other search term, including your competitor) appears in a variety of public online media.

Surf and increase cross postings. At least weekly, search for your name on consumer-driven ratings sites, from Yelp! to the Better Business Bureau.

Join community listservs; when relevant, respond to queries in your groups with helpful, non-salesy advice and insights.

Promote glowing reviews. Encourage strong clients and trade partners to visit the sites and share their perspectives on your company.

Keep a level head. For negative comments, if you know the poster, politely call and ask if there is anything you can do to change their impression. If a review is flagrantly untrue or is posted by someone you believe is not a client, you might be able to contact the site and challenge the post’s legitimacy. Otherwise, just use the opportunity as a way to prove the excess of your customer service and grace by responding with a “higher road” reply offering to make right whatever the poster seems to have had a problem with. Be careful; rebuttals can sometimes sound like a dogfight and only put you in a defensive position. This is the opposite of the goal you should have.


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