The Importance of Social Proof for Your Business

Social proof is now a major factor when it comes to attracting more customers to any business. No one likes to be the first to try something. Most people are more comfortable when others try something first and recommend it. That’s why word-of-mouth and personal referrals are so powerful. When you can get these, you’re getting something you can never get from advertising. The next best thing is reviews. While people may not know the review writers, it still constitutes social proof that your business is worth trying. Let’s look at why this phenomenon is so important and explore some tips on getting more reviews for your business.

Set Up Profiles on Major Review Sites

You can only get reviews on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and others if your profile is set up with them. You can still publish reviews and testimonials on your own website, of course. However, many people trust third-party sites the most. Google is especially important for local businesses as reviews are tied in with Google Maps and search engine listings. People searching for your type of business will see reviews in the listing along with directions on how to get there. Yelp is important for many types of businesses as well.

If your business is in an industry that has specialized review sites, don’t overlook these. Avva and, for example, are specifically for attorneys. Healthgrades if for medical professionals. Listings on such sites are very valuable when people are searching for a trusted service in a particular industry.

Request Reviews

While some customers will leave reviews without being asked, these are a minority. The best way to get more reviews is to ask for them. You can do this in a number of ways, depending on your type of business and how you interact with customers. Here are a few possibilities.

  • If you have a store, restaurant, or other brick and mortar business, hang a sign near the cash register or receptionist’s desk reminding people to leave reviews. You might specify a Google or Yelp review.
  • Place a link on your website to your review sites.
  • Request reviews in emails to your customers. This is one of many good reasons to collect email addresses and send out messages regularly. It’s best to link directly to your review page.
  • Ask for reviews on your business cards, posters, brochures, or anywhere that you promote your business.
  • Train your employees to remind customers to leave reviews. They should do this in a polite and low-key manner, of course.

Monitoring and Engaging With Reviews

If you’re listed on review sites and request reviews from customers, you should start seeing a greater number of reviews. It’s important to monitor your reviews and interact with your customers. You always want to stay informed about reviews about your business. You can do this by logging in to review sites regularly, setting Google Alerts, or by using reputation management software or services. It’s essential to respond to both positive and negative reviews. When someone says something complimentary about your business, make sure you thank them. This shows that you appreciate their comments and encourages other customers to leave reviews.

Responding to Negative Reviews

No one likes negative reviews but sooner or later you’ll have to deal with them. Even the most customer-friendly businesses have dissatisfied and disgruntled customers from time to time. When someone criticizes you, don’t take it personally and never respond emotionally. You definitely want to avoid getting caught up in arguments on public forums. This can only harm your business and reputation.

If the customer brings up a legitimate issue, do your best to resolve it. When appropriate, offer a refund, exchange, or coupon. If the customer says something that you don’t agree with or that’s blatantly false, state your position in a rational and polite tone. When possible, it’s best to contact the customer off-site if you have his or her email or phone number. In some cases, unscrupulous competitors or trolls may post fake reviews. Some sites, including Google, have a policy of removing reviews that they determine are fake. Others, however, such as Yelp, will not usually remove reviews.

Use Reviews and Social Proof to Build Your Business

Reviews are essential for attracting customers and growing your business. Make this part of your long-term marketing strategy. The more reviews you get, the more social proof you accumulate. Don’t worry about a few bad reviews. Most readers look at the overall pattern and base their opinions on what the majority of customers think.  If you track your reviews, engage with customers, and provide great service, you’ll find that positive reviews outnumber negative ones by a wide margin.