This post is the latest in our “Word of Mouth” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of February, including topics like reputation management, and reviews optimization. See the rest of the series here.
Even in a hyper technology-driven world, one of the most influential forms of local marketing remains word of mouth. But of course that universal principle has taken on new digital formats, including social influence and good-old local business reviews. Reviews optimization is the name of today’s game.
This is happening in all kinds of places, beyond usual suspects like Yelp. Another reviews powerhouse, TripAdvisor, is moving in on a core local business vertical: restaurants. We got to find out all about what TripAdvisor’s doing and learning from the company’s Restaurant Division Lead Mark Goloboy on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast.
Goloboy’s division has assembled a quickly growing corpus of 700 million reviews from 200 million monthly diners for five million restaurants. And most of those reviews are positive, says Goloboy. But the key is what businesses should do with those reviews to gain a strategic edge.
Goloby sees a clear delineation in success from restaurants that respond to reviews within 24 hours. It doesn’t require exhaustive responses, especially for busy restaurant owners and managers, but it should send the message that business owners and operators are paying attention and take customer reviews seriously. Also, Goloboy says, maintain a positive tone, even with negative reviews.
“When you respond to those reviews you want to be positive and constructive,” he told us. “You want to acknowledge what the problem was and say that you’ll do your best to fix it and improve. Owners are reticent to do that because they think it’s admitting that they’re bad, but that’s not the case at all. That constructive conversation and quick response should be a daily habit.”
Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech. More biographical information can be seen here.