Putting Power into Your Reviews and Testimonials


Negating the Negatives

Negative Internet Reviews

If you are like many businesses today you have experienced the negative review on Google, CitySearch, Yelp, or a plethora of other sites. In the process you have most likely noticed that these reviews hide behind an alias. The reality is that they, the reviewers, are cowards or even worse competitors.

To top it off Google, CitySearch, and the others make it difficult and costly to respond. This may be a good thing, because your immediate response would be a “knee-jerk” reaction and probably end up hurting your more than helping. You must remember that you are in the age of the Internet and the person who wrote the review will NOT be the only one reading your response. In your attempt to respond you may end up hurting future business from the eves droppers.

What Do You Do

One of the best ways to counteract a negative review is to get a good review; but not just any good review. Get one where the individual writing the review is willing to give their name and their city and state. You want credibility behind the review!

Get Credible Reviews

When you have credible reviews and someone points to Google, CitySearch, or whomever and it is a review that hides behind an alias; you can point to your reviews (good, just okay, or even bad) and say that YOUR reviews have quality. You can say that these are people you can talk to and they will answer your questions honestly. These are people that have nothing to hide.

You can, with the writer’s permission, use these reviews in your marketing and sales materials as testimonials of the work that you do and they way your customers/clients/patients feel about you, your business, your products, and your services.

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Tom Staskiewicz speaks and coaches on Social Media/Social Networking topics helping businesses, organizations, and individuals establish and manage their Social Media presence. Your Social Media presence doesn’t just happen and will not take care of itself. Tom helps you with those processes so your Social Media efforts will work for you.

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Social Media – Can We Learn from Restaurants


We Can Learn from Restaurants

I believe there are social media lessons to be learned from restaurants. The other day, after finishing a meal at the Olive Garden, I started thinking about what does my business and the businesses of my customers have in common with a restaurant. What can we learn?

I started thinking about the entire sequence of a meal and how that affects the customer.

The first thing that the restaurant owners decide is what type of restaurant do they want. Will they be fast food or full service? Will they be inexpensive, moderate priced, or expensive? What type of food will they offer: a wide variety of foods, a particular specialty, or a specific ethnicity.

Where will they locate the restaurant? Who will be their target market or customer?

Once you move beyond fast food, most restaurants understand that they need to get the food moving to the patron. There is nothing worse, than a table full of people just sitting and waiting. Restaurant owners have learned that you need to get the customer or patron involved immediately.

In the past they would immediately serve you water, but today they start by taking your drink order. Why? Because it is quick and easy. People decide quickly on what they will have to drink. The next question is whether you want an appetizer; again these are food choices that are quick to assemble and get to the table. After the appetizers are ordered and before they are served your main course order is taken. This takes longer to prepare, but you have your drinks and your appetizers to keep you occupied.

So What Does This Have To Do With Social Media?

How are you doing at deciding the questions to be asked for your business? What are the parameters for your choices and decisions? Why are you doing what you are doing? What are your goals and objectives?

10 -15 years ago businesses began creating web sites. The question I ask is why? The answer for many was that they were told if they did not have a web site; then they were not serious about their business. A few years later the question was whether they were using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keywords; because, if they were not, then they were not serious about their business. Today the question is whether the business is using Social Media; because if they are not then they are not serious about their business.

The problem I see with all of these options is that the reasons were often incorrect. Instead of doing the methodical process that a restaurant or any business, for that matter, follows; businesses rushed into web sites, SEO, and now they are rushing into Social Media.

Choosing to Participate in Social Media

A business’s participation in Social Media should be thought out.

  • What is the goal?
  • What is the expectation?
  • What is the expected benefit?
  • What is expected of the visitor?
  • Who is the expected visitor?
  • How do you want the visitor to respond?
  • Are you going to capture visitor information?
  • What information do you want to capture?
  • How are you going to capture the information?
  • What do you have to offer in exchange for this information?

If you are not asking and answering these questions; it will be like driving without a destination. You will not:

  1. Know where you are going.
  2. You will not know whether you are heading in the correct direction.
  3. You will not know when you get there or if you get there.
  4. You will never be able to correct your course.

Social Media is not something you put on auto-pilot and then leave it alone. The great thing is that it is easy to change course, but only if you know the course you are taking.

The Power of Facebook – Part II – Content Is King


Tapping the Power of Facebook

Just as important as those that “Like” your Fan Page are your Friends.

  1. Build your fan base.
  2. Build your friends list.
  3. Create great content.
  4. Get your fans to click that they “Like” your content.
  5. Get your fans to comment on your posts.
  6. Investigate and adopt new Facebook functionality as appropriate for your goals.

In my previous post on this topic I discussed items 1 and 2. In this post I will talk about items 3 through 5.

Facebook Success Requires Great Content

Great content is key to getting your message to spread or get legs of its own. When people see great comment they are more likely to comment and spread the word. If they do not like what you said it will die with them.

Content is not a given, it is something your must work on; if you are to perfect the process. Be persistent and when you get your formula working stick with it. There is nothing worse than getting a following started and then punking out on it.

One thing is that if you write something and it does not get legs of its own; you do not, necessarily, have to give up on the topic; maybe it was the format or the way it was said. The great thing is that because the topic did not grow legs, you can come back to it six months, three months, a month, or even a week later and try it again with a little different spin.

If You Friends and Fans Do Not “Like” Your Content; Your Content Will Die With Them

Anything that you write should be written with the idea that it will elicit responses. Responses are key to the accelerated spread of your identity and brand. Your goal is to expand your sphere of influence and the comments of your connections will cause that to happen.

Ergo, the more connections you have the greater the chance that your message will have a life of its own. If your content is not eliciting a response, then you MUST change your content. This is a trial and error process as you attempt to get it right. You must write and write and write; then you must monitor and monitor and monitor. Find out what works and what does not work. Build on what works and assess what does not work to see if it can be changed.

If Your fans Comment, Their Friends Will Care About What THEY Said

Social Networking is about spreading your sphere of influence. As such there is a lot of talk about getting a following, a bunch of fans, or lots of connections. While these are all important; it is even more important to get people talking.

You need to have the recipients of your initial message make comments to you or to others. Regardless of the direction of the content all of their Fans will receive the entire discussion thread, but if you pay attention to the thread only the most recent four or five comments are displayed. Have you ever wondered about that?

Here is the reason; the most recent comment will be from someone that you know; because that is YOUR primary point of interest. If you like what they said you may look at the original post and even look at other posts. The important thing is to know that the Social Networks want you to see things from your connections in the hope that you will comment on your connection’s comment and keep the thread alive.

Social Networking – Are You Afraid Your Connections Will Steal Your Customers


Do You Need to Fear Your Connections Stealing Your Customers?

There are a lot of networking wannabees that are worried about competitors stealing their customers. They allow this fear to keep them from inviting or accepting connections and friends. Their belief is that by not inviting or not accepting they will prevent competitors from stealing their customers.

I understand what they are saying and where they are coming from; but is this really a legitimate concern or are they doing more harm to themselves than good? The reality is that being a networking wannabee with a few connections makes you more susceptible than if you had a large number of connections.

This may sound ridiculous, but let me explain. Whether you are on LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other Social Network, as far as I know, your connections do not have the ability to directly or indirectly search or sort your connections. This means that someone wanting to search your connections or friends list must go through your connections one-by-one looking for possible customers.

A Large Network Makes Searching Time Consuming and Virtually Impossible

If you have just a few connections, this would be an easy task; if you have a large number of connections this would be a very labor intensive process. To me, this says that the larger your network the more protected you are.

Currently I have over 800 connections on LinkedIn, for someone to identify one of my customers would be a lot of work and I do not know anyone that would have the time to undertake that effort. I doubt that your connections would have the necessary time or inclination to undertake that type of task either. A large network can should include Network White Noise.

Creating Network White Noise

What is Network White Noise? This is a new term that I have coined and is the process of building lots of people into your network individuals that may or may not have an immediate networking value. Some of the people that you can add to create Network White Noise include family members, friends, former classmates, former teachers and professors, and others without a current business connection.

I call these connections Network White Noise because if someone is searching through your connections or friends list; these individuals will not have the value the searcher desires. Adding these people is one of the best things you can do to rapidly add Network White Noise to your network and therefore hide your clients and customers.

One of the best ways to continue your networking efforts, while still protecting the identify of your clients and customers is to create Network White Noise. Are you inviting friends, family, former teachers and professors, and other non-business related connections? If not, then why not start now?

I Am Shocked When Business Owners Ignore Social Media


I Am Amazed

I am amazed; I am shocked every time someone tells me that they want their business to be on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or any other Social Media and then end with the comment saying they do not want to have that presence tied to them. All I can say is: What?

How can you be in Social Media where it is all about conversations, not dialogue, and not expect to be involved? Web 2.0 applications, which is what Social Networking or Social Media applications are, is all about conversations. That is why these applications were developed.

Anyone Making This Statement Does Not Realize That Social Networking Is About Conversations

Social Media is about conversations with your friends, customers, prospects, and others. If it is not you conversing with them; then who do you want doing the talking? Have you designated someone to talk on your behalf? Are you prepared to entrust these communications to someone else?

If this is a large organization, where the operations are no longer tied to an individual, it may make sense. But if you are a small or medium sized business, a professional, a consultant, or an entrepreneur; you probably do not have someone that you have trained and entrusted to talk for you.

Social Networking Is About the Conversations

The purpose of these communications is to build credibility, reliability, and trust; how can you do that and simultaneously remain anonymous? Are you afraid that a customer or prospect will say something you do not like? If that is the case you need to wake up, because they are saying those things regardless. At least with Social Media you have a chance to hear what is being said and respond.

Business Owners and Managers Cannot Ignore Social Media

Today’s world does not allow you to hide! Your business can be and actually is a target and thinking that by not being involved in Social Media will somehow protect or shield you is a mistake. Things are being said with or without your participation. Social Media has become the outlet for favorable and unfavorable discussions.

It used to be that the dissatisfied customer would tell six friends; today that number increases geometrically. The average person on Facebook has 130 friends. If they post something about you, favorable or unfavorable, on average 130 people will see or hear the message.

There is a YouTube video out about United Airlines breaking this guys guitar. Over 3 Million, yes that is an “M” people have seen this video. Last I knew it was even becoming a record.

You are now a member of the viral world so stop being an ostrich and get your head out of the sand. You need to be participating!

Can Your Organization Afford to Ignore Social Media?


Is Social Media a Phenomena?

Some people think that Social Media is just a passing fad; many are the same people that thought the Internet was a passing fad in the mid-late ’90s. Whether Social Media is a passing fad or not; you cannot afford to ignore it, because it will not ignore you!

You Cannot Ignore the Power of Social Media

Companies large and small are learning the lessons of Social Media. What they are finding is that Social Media provides happy and unhappy customers, clients, and patients with an opportunity to comment about products and services.

Participating in Social Media provides organizations the opportunity to respond to customers, correct misinformation, clear up confusion, and resolve issues. Left to its own device; Social Media can create major problems. Organizations must have a presence and monitor the information on the Internet that pertains to them.

I just read a Blog article by Augie Ray, a researcher for Forrester Seven Things Your Organization Must Do Because of Social Media. The article starts with the statement that when the Internet started businesses asked the question: What can the Internet do for my business? The question they should have been asking is: What can the Internet do TO my business? That second question must be asked today in regards to Social Media: What can Social Media do TO my business?

What is YOUR attitude toward Social Media? Do YOU look at it as a waste of time and a passing fad?

Passing Fad or Not Social Media Cannot Be Ignored

The reality is that Social Media cannot be ignored. Organizations whether they like it or not, have a Social Media presence. That presence can be created by the organization or the organization can leave it to be created by someone else.

If left to someone else the presence may or may not be what the organization wants. If it is not what the organization wants, they must take action to counter the negativity or correct the situation. Being on the defense does not allow an organization to work from its strengths; it is now playing by someone else’s rules.

An intelligent organization wants to play from its strengths and therefore must be proactive in the Social Media arena. Organizations cannot wait until they must respond, they must be building their presence from the beginning.

The world is changing rapidly and organizations must be changing along with the world. Look at the situation with Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video or Blockbuster. These are example organizations that have not changed with the times and have either lost the battle as in the case of Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video or are losing the battle as in the case of Blockbuster. Although these failures are not directly related to Social Media, they are the result of the Internet and new technologies.

Current failures related to Social Media include BP with the Oil Disaster in the Gulf; Nestle/Greenpeace over Palm Oil; or the potential disaster for Toys ‘r Us and the fact they ignore customer comments on their Facebook Page. The cost to these organizations in actual dollars, publicity, and public relations is huge; can you and your organization afford those problems?