Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are you listening to your association members?

According to USA Today, the Harvard Business School study concluded that a one-star increase on a Yelp rating can yield a 9% increase in sales. And, four out of five consumers (80%) reverse their purchase decisions based on negative online reviews. The result was in Roger Yu’s story Online Reputation Crucial for Small Businesses  
Over the last few years, I’ve normally just smile when association executives tell me they “don’t have time” to engage in social media conversations. Sometimes I respond by asking, “Does someone answer your telephones?” 

After all, messages about your association via Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and other social media platforms are really just another form of a telephone call ... a member or prospect trying to reach you to ask a question, make a comment or engage in a conversation.
Yu’s story had some interesting elements (including some paid and/or free tools). Here are four comments I pulled from the story:

  • While it may be tempting for small-business owners to shrug off a few lousy reviews, industry research shows benign neglect of a company's online reputation could quickly hurt sales — especially given the new normal behavior of customers consulting their smartphones for even the smallest of purchases.
  • There are industry-specific review sites, such as and for doctors and dentists. DealerRater and are popular for customers scouring for car dealers. There are even sites such as Houzz where consumers gather to talk about remodeling and other hobbies but liberally sprinkle vendor recommendations.
  • Netvibes and Trackur offer free tools for basic services — finding reviews and sending immediate alerts. Netvibes' free online "Dashboard" for monitoring articles and Twitter feeds are used by 4 million users, says spokesman Vincent Chang.
  • Larry Watts, who owns 1896 O'Malley House, a bed and breakfast in New Orleans, says he responds to each and every customer review, even if it's just a succinct thank-you note to acknowledge a positive review. The consistent communication, he believes, helps generate a good online vibe about his property and reel in more business. "I look at TripAdvisor on a daily basis," he says. "If they're going to take time to write a review, I should give a few minutes of my day to respond."
If you are interested in exploring more about online listening, please read this post: Why Reputation Management Matters for Small Businesses (association) 

Whatever, someone on your staff needs to be “tracking” what is being said about you and your association. I know one trade association that even tracks comments about its members and shares that information with that member.

What are you doing in your association?

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