Street Fight’s March Theme: Word of Mouth
One of the oldest and still most influential drivers of local commerce is word of mouth. Though that’s sustained at a high level, the delivery vessel for local chatter has evolved. Social channels like Facebook and Yelp now shape the reputations of brick-and-mortar businesses, not to mention the kingmaker authority of Google.
Google, in its ongoing quest to own the end-to-end user experience through the Knowledge Graph, is emphasizing reviews. The search giant is also letting local businesses interact with vocal consumers through Posts and Q&A features in Google My Business.
This means it continues to be a moving target for small businesses and multi-location brands to optimize their online presence and reviews. There are deliberate strategies and rigor required to use online chatter in one’s favor and to “control the narrative” through active participation in the dialogue.
Beyond some of the customer care implications and benefits from being active in customer discussions, businesses also reap algorithmic advantages when they respond to reviews and questions from patrons online. There is often a direct impact on ranking factors in Google for example, for businesses that have a high review response rate, frequency, and speed.
“User-generated content has a massive impact on local presence today, often positive,” said Brandify VP of Product Damian Rollison.* “Google is looking at review content as a relevance signal for local ranking, and review response offers a great path for brands to engage with consumers at the local level.”
But cultivating reputation goes beyond just online presence and marketing. Monitoring reviews can start to uncover operational insights for businesses. For example, the affinity for certain restaurant dishes in a given geographic cluster can inform strategies around seasonal menu planning and supply chain optimization.
For all of these reasons, “Word of Mouth” is our editorial theme for the month of March. We’ll circle back throughout the month with reported articles and contributed pieces that tackle this key topic in local commerce. That includes reputation management, reviews optimization, and trend analysis.
We’ll label posts accordingly so you can look out for them (see the preface and links at the opening of this article). We’ll also give you the chance to see them all at once. This is part of an ongoing editorial strategy aimed at helping you find our most pertinent content across monthly themes.
Reach out to us with suggestions for monthly themes, opportunities to contribute, and to amplify your brand messaging alongside this thematic coverage. On that note, we’re excited to also announce that we’ve launched the latest version of our media kit. Check it out, and come be part of our narrative.
*Brandify is Street Fight’s parent company, though Street Fight maintains editorial independence.