UPDATE: Since this was published Google and Yelp have made changes to their review process. Google has paused new review publishing (and also responses from business owners as well as Q&As). Yelp has instituted a new review process. Part of the rationale behind these actions are to help businesses avoid negative reviews/complaints about closings and hours (or accusations of contracting COVID19) that are truly beyond their control or unverifiable.
We all know this is a crazy time and there’s all sorts of uncertainties surrounding the impacts this pandemic is going to leave behind.
One of the immediate effects has been the shuttering of businesses (voluntarily or mandated). Many of these are the small businesses that we frequent day in/day out—and we recognize that we need to do our part to help ensure they can remain afloat during and after this has all passed.
While we’re doing our part for social distancing and limiting going out and visiting places, there are ways we can continue to help other businesses (and by extension their employees) as we stay home trying to avoid infection.
On top of buying gift cards or ordering takeout—one thing I realized that can have a knock-on effect is to leave our friends reviews on their business pages.
I know, you’re probably thinking this sounds like one of those “I’ll do something without actually doing something” type of actions, but it’s really not.
In our industry we cherish reviews. They can be the difference between a potential client calling our business or some other competitor. We make recommendations to our clients how to improve their own review gathering strategies. And more importantly—reviews are one of the main ways a customer decides whether to trust and patronize a business. We’ve seen surveys that show 82% of consumers read reviews for local businesses and the majority (52%) of 18-54 year olds “always” read reviews.
That should give you an idea of how important reviews are to a business—and when businesses are struggling, reviews can be even more powerful.
So here’s our suggestion: if you’re one of the lucky ones who are home and healthy with your family, able to work remote and have some free time, start leaving reviews for the businesses, services, and restaurants you frequently use. You need to step up away from COVID-19 coverage for your own mental health, and leaving positive reviews will help clear your mind.
Best Places to Leave Reviews for A Business:
This is an obvious one. Search for the business you want to review and normally their Google My Business page will show up in search results. Click the “reviews” link and you’ll get a pop up with all reviews, and a nice “write a review” button in the upper right corner. Start typing away.
This is often another important one for small businesses. If you’re having trouble finding the business Facebook page, go to their website and look for the social media icon for Facebook. That should link you to their page and you can leave your review there. Facebook is a good one to leave reviews on because in many community pages, when someone recommends a business that page often shows up in the comment with the star-ratings and people can check out the reviews.
Same deal—if you leave a review on Google may as well jump over to Yelp and leave a review there as well. Spread the love we say!
Some Alternative Ideas for Reviews
These review sites are obvious—but they’re not the only way to show appreciation for a business you’re fond of and highlight why you like them. Here’s a couple more ways to have an online impact on some local businesses:
Reddit is a great place to leave a review. Why? Because they often have forums (subreddits) dedicated to your town/city. And this is a great place for locals to stay on top of news and information around town. It’s also a great place for engagement. I would recommend going on Reddit and searching for a subreddit related to your area. Once you’ve joined the subreddit go ahead and leave a review (always helps to have a catchy title as well).
Another off-the-beaten-path way to expose the good a local biz does is via Twitter. Here you can find hashtags that are relevant to your area or to a businesses niche and share a quick review/explanation of why you’re recommending them. Make sure to tag them assuming they have a Twitter handle.
If you have a personal blog you can always write up a review on your site. In the future if someone searches for “Business Name reviews” your site with its glowing recommendation might just show up in search results.
Couple of Other Things
Pictures are a great way to enhance your reviews. We’re a visual species, we love to see pictures and what’s better than seeing the actual food you’re recommending or a nicely framed picture of that cappuccino you could die for right now? If you have pictures you can share on a review, make sure to do so!
When you leave a review somewhere that’s not a ‘traditional’ review site (i.e., Google, Yelp), try to leave a link to the company you’re reviewing. On sites like Reddit, Facebook, blogs all you have to do is copy the URL of the business and drop it into your review and it should automatically link to their site.
This pandemic is looking to be devastating to our friends in the hospitality industry and while we’re doing our best to limit social interactions, this is one way to help their business in some non-traditional ways. Once things are back to normal, your reviews will be able to help them generate new business and hopefully lead to better economic times for our communities.