The phrase “near me” has become increasingly common in search, as more and more new restaurants are being discovered through local search and social sites, which is why we’re seeing companies like Google add reviews to the Maps app (you’ll now be shown star ratings). Local SEO for restaurants, franchises, and other multi-location businesses has become a critical strategy for customer acquisition, given the prominence of this type of information.
On top of search results, SOCi’s research found that online reviews are now the number one ranking factor–valued over pricing and proximity to their current location–used by customers when determining if they should visit a restaurant. In fact, 93% of consumers say that online reviews have an impact on their purchase decisions and 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to interact with a business. It’s become more vital than ever to a business’ bottom line to actively respond to and manage reviews–good and bad–in a timely fashion to show customers and potential customers that it’s worth doing business with them.
How is social driving local purchase decisions?
48% of consumers have conducted a local search via social in the past week according to research from Burke and LSA Local Media Tracking. In fact, 85% of a brand’s social engagement takes place via local business pages. And recent data from Facebook shows that of the 1.6 billion people who are connected to a business on Facebook, two in three Facebook users visit the page of a local business at least once a week.
These findings highlight the urgency for local and multi-location brands to pay attention to their social media activity. With Facebook serving as the primary influencer of purchase decisions, local pages need constant monitoring and brands need to engage with users to ensure discovery and conversion in Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms.
What is the sales impact of a bad review on search results?
The impact of poor consumer feedback can be detrimental to a business’ future sales. Research shows that 40% of consumers form an opinion on a business after reading just a few reviews and that 86% of consumers hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative reviews. In fact, every star a business loses will cost them upwards of nine percent of their revenue. It’s clear that brands and businesses that have not taken control of their reputation on a local level are feeling these effects on their bottom line.
What are some reputation management strategies for restaurants to employ? What is the role of social media?
Google and Facebook are now dominating pure-play review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor–it’s a growing trend we’ve followed as more and more customer conversations and complaints are happening on search and social platforms. And according to Go Globe, 70% of social media users use Twitter and Facebook to seek resolution for customer care issues with brands. So for restaurants and retailers in general, deeply monitoring each review and comment thread is essential to managing overall reputation.
For franchises to do this effectively, they must make moves to obtain access to all the social properties representing the company online. Brands generally have control of their national social pages, but they are often missing the holistic picture of their online presence without having access to local pages. This is extremely problematic as five times more customer engagement occurs on local social media pages than national brand pages. The first step is for corporate to contact franchise owners and social platforms, and then do whatever it takes to collect all of the URLs and unify channel oversight.
As I mentioned before, customers are very driven by reviews, which leads to the necessity of responding to customer feedback within 24 hours. There have been numerous studies done that demonstrate how detrimental it is to ignore customers. Consumers need to see that the brand cares enough to listen and make it right. If they aren’t heard and embraced, their dollars are going elsewhere.
Are there any anticipated or new changes on networks/platforms that are impacting reviews/making them easier to manage?
In the last month, Facebook made some major changes to reviews, prioritizing the content more as a recommendation in an effort to align this behavior with what users were already doing on the site and provide a way to better surface the information via the platform. Facebook’s made it easier for users to act directly on a local page, handling everything from booking appoints and making reservations to ordering food and leaving feedback.
About Monica Ho
Monica Ho is CMO of reputation and social media management platform SOCi. A 20 year veteran of digital marketing, advertising and research experience, Monica has been named one of the Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising (three years in a row) by Business Insider and one of the 100 most influential North American b2b tech marketers by Hot Topics. She also serves on the board of the Advanced Digital Marketing and Media Community of Austin (AUSAM), as well as the advisory boards of several digital marketing and technology start-ups within NY, TX and CA.