Social Media Doesn’t Begin and End with Facebook and Twitter

If you have used Facebook or Twitter for any length of time you may have noticed the phenomena of people posting pictures of their food. Why they do this, I don’t actually know. And the reactions other social networkers have to this habit seems to be love it or hate it.

Diner submitted photo of a lamburger.

However you may feel about this trend, it highlights an interesting fact about social media users: two thirds of them read consumer reviews.

Those photos of someone’s meal could very well fall into the category of customer reviews. Is the presentation immaculate? Is the steak cooked perfectly? Or is there something wrong?

All too often businesses only give Facebook and Twitter their immediate attention. See someone complaining on Facebook? Respond immediately and maybe give them a coupon. Got a whiner on Twitter? See if you can convert them back into a fan on the public timeline.

It’s great that these comments and complaints are getting responses in real time. But those aren’t the only places where customers are airing their grievances. Yelp, Trip Advisor, City Search, Kudzu and others like them are also social media sites. And they can make or break a business.

Facebook and Twitter happen in real time. Someone says something, someone responds. Eventually all of that gets buried by whatever topics people move on to. And most don’t want to go back and wade through all of those other comments to get to a snarky post someone made because their cab driver was rude.

Review sites are different. They are designed to hold a lot of information for a long time and allow people to sort by date and type of review. A bad review that went unanswered three years ago could keep someone from walking through the doors today.

How does a busy business deal with this? It can actually be pretty simple. A tool like Google Alerts or simply having the sites email notifications when a new comment has been posted can keep business owners up to date without having to check review sites every day.

Make it a company policy to respond to all reviews that ask a question or log a complaint within one business day. And every once in a while, respond to the positive comments, too. Something as simple as “we are honored that you chose our restaurant to celebrate your anniversary” can go just as far as positively resolving a customer’s issue.

If you already have a process in place to respond to Facebook and Twitter, then adding in review sites will be relatively easy. If you don’t have a process, it’s time to form one. And don’t forget: it should include all social media sites, not just the ones getting the headlines.