The PBS News Hour has broken a story that’s really not news at all to any small business owner: some, if not all, of the reviews that can be found on Yelp, Angie’s List, and similar websites are not entirely true. For a few dollars, you can have someone write your business’ praises online, even if they have no idea where you’re located, what you do, or the true level of quality service you provide to your customers.
This can be disheartening, particularly if you’re an honest business owner who’s trying to play by the rules. There’s good news: increased awareness of the presence of fraudulent reviews has led review sites to become more vigilant in their efforts to identify and remove them; additionally, customers are becoming more savvy and take even the most glowing five-star reviews with a grain of salt.
That being said, reviews and testimonials still have a lot of value. Potential customers really want to know what other people think of your products and services – provided, of course, that these reviews are authentic, from real people, who have really done business with you.
Here are some strategies you can use to reassure potential customers that your testimonials and reviews are actually authentic:
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, video is worth a million. Video testimonials are powerful selling tools in part because people find it easier to believe someone they can see for themselves. Actively solicit video testimonials, and when you can capture these, share them on social media, your website, and your YouTube channel.
Whenever a customer comments positively on your social media, capture an image of that post so you can share it with your other fans. The fact that users can click through and see the positive commentary comes from a real person helps tremendously. Don’t be afraid to ask your fans and followers for testimonials or reviews – people love to share their feedback.
A Notarized Sworn Statement:
Over the top? Absolutely. But getting a notary public to endorse the testimonial you’re sharing has in fact authentic provides inarguable evidence that your business is pretty good. This old-school technique had a burst of popularity in the late 70’s – but who’s to say it doesn’t have a role to play in the world of social media?