What Are People Saying About You Online?

The other day I was talking with one of my Web design clients about social media, and he adamantly informed me he ‘didn’t believe in all that stuff.’

(“Stuff,” by the way, is a nicer form of the word he used!)

Anyway, he’s a long-time businessman, so I probed a bit further to learn the reason behind his aversion.

Turns out, it was something I’ve wondered about for a long time.

‘One bad review can ruin everything you’ve tried to accomplish,’ he told me. ‘Your good reputation, your business — everything could be wiped out by one person who, for whatever reason, isn’t 100 percent happy with you. And that’s wrong.’

Yes, it is.

It’s like online bullying.

And I don’t know how to combat it.

Everything I’m reading tells me a business, especially a small business, needs a Web presence. Whether that’s a blog, a Facebook or Twitter account, a profile on LinkedIn, pins on Pinterest, or some other avenue, is really up to the owner.

After all, it’s the owner who’s going to have to make sure his message is:

  • Accurate
  • Consistent
  • Positive
  • Inviting.

And most owners are so busy trying to run their business that they have little time for anything else (like tweeting or blogging).

I can only advise them to make time. Or hire someone they trust to manage their online reputation.

Reviews are out there, and all small businesses have come across a dissatisfied customer.

Someone for whom nothing we do is going to make right the perceived injustice they feel.

Take, for instance, my client’s experience:

Not long ago, he’d had a young customer who threatened to take to Facebook her dissatisfaction with his business. When he called her bluff, she backed off.

Still, the fear persists.

I realize it’s a full time job to monitor who’s talking about you. Or your business.

Some suggestions:

  • Google Alerts
  • TweetBeep keeps watch over your Twitter mentions.
  • And you can set your LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts to see who’s searching your profile there.
  • Marketing Zen

It doesn’t hurt to know what people are saying about you online (well, some of what they say might be hurtful, but wouldn’t you rather know and deal with it than be in the dark?)

22 thoughts on “What Are People Saying About You Online?

  1. Debbie, awesomely informative post!

    And you are sooooo right, any buisness needs a Web presents today. I have a friend writes a blog specifically about social media and how it can greatly affect a business. And yes, especially a small business.

    If you look how many businesses are now no longer an actual a “physical business”, because most of them are ONLINE businesses, it’s important to know what customers are saying about them.

    With all the many social media out there, dissatisfied customers have a plethora of ways to make their voice heard.

    I once witnessed how a dissatisfied customer ROYALLY complained on Twitter about the lousy service they got when they tried to return a washer and dryer that broke a week after they got it. Well, the company found out about it and immediately exchanged the washer and dryer for new ones because the blogger had a very powerful presence online, so they didn’t want their reputation to suffer.

    Thank you for sharing the three monitoring links. I will look into them!

    Again, awesome post!

    • Thanks, Ron, I hope it was helpful. Dissatisfied customers have little recourse but to complain; however, complaining on social media, in my opinion, is synonymous with writing an anonymous letter to the newspaper.
      A much better recourse, I think, is to address their complaints directly to the owner — and be prepared to suggest ways they can receive satisfaction (a refund, a product exchange, etc.)
      Smearing someone’s good name, just for meanness, is too much like bullying.
      Have a fabulous Sunday, my friend!

    • Sadly, you’re right, Tanya. Rather than taking to the Internet with a complaint, I think most small biz owners would prefer a customer address them in person, issue by issue. I suspect most would bend over backward to insure their customers leave happy — and return often. Big business, because of the volume they do, can afford to take the hit (though even they, I imagine, don’t like receiving less-than-stellar reviews). Thanks for dropping by — always nice to see a new comment!

    • Hope you can find something useful here, Barb. Yes, just sticking one’s head in the sand and counting on the positive testimonials of satisfied customers is no longer sufficient. Business owners must find out where and how their company name is being bandied about.

  2. I agree with Ron. Every business owner needs an online presence. Add to that, if they sell stuff in person, they should have a way of buying their product online, too. A few months ago I attended a Walk for Animals and I bought harnesses and a leash for each of my dogs. Oliver outgrew his and needed another. But, although, the business owner had a Facebook page, there way no way to buy a larger harness online. I had to wait months until they came back to town. In fact, today! They were in town for the Harvest Festival and I finally was able to buy Oliver the much needed harness. I love their product but there’s got to be a better way! What’s the point of just having a FB page if you can’t satisfy your customer?

    • EXACTLY what I keep trying to tell potential customers, Monica! It’s one thing to have a brick-and-mortar storefront; it’s another entirely to have a Website where they can receive orders 24/7/365! Your harness company, if they hadn’t come back to town, could have lost not only your sale but how many others?
      I’d rather see a small business sink money into a Website than even worry about setting up a Facebook page (but you knew I’d say that, didn’t you — seeing as how it’s MY business to do web pages, ha!!)

      • Yes, absolutely I knew. But they were lucky that I was patient enough to wait for them to return to town. For all we know, they have lost other business because they haven’t made it possible to buy their products online. Sigh. The thing is, after I left I was thinking I should’ve bought Henry a new collar so they’d both be matching. But, too late. And since I can’t buy from them online, they’ve lost my business after all. They don’t plan on returning here until next May!

        • This is just too sad, Monica. Both for poor Sir Henry, who has to do without a new collar, and for this company, which is doing without a Website. If only they realized how easy it is for shoppers to hit that “Add to Cart” button, ha!

  3. I just watched something on CNN about this. There is a site…forgot the name, but they give Horrible reviews about products, companies, people etc…This is definitely a form of bullying. It doesn’t stop w/ teenagers.

    thank you for the links, resources, Debbie.

    Love your new format! Xx

    • I’m glad you like it, Kim — thanks for saying so!
      I don’t believe I’ve heard of that site, but it sounds potentially damaging. Yes, we still have freedom of speech, but something tells me we need to be very careful that our “freedom” doesn’t border on libel and slander. Who really hates a business so much that they’re willing to bankrupt them, anyway?

  4. Great info! I hadn’t really thought about online presence for businesses- especially small ones. I do check online before purchasing or contracting with someone. I also take reviews with a grain of salt (both the glowing ones and the not-so-good ones. On the negative reviews, I like to read what the person is complaining about. Sometimes it’s quite apparent that it’s whining, or often, they are complaining about a feature that the product didn’t have. If that’s not a feature I desire, I can ignore that one.

    • Thanks, Janna. I’ve heard of too many people who take as gospel what they read in reviews, yet I, too, have often laughed at them. I imagine if a person is a size 4 and orders a Large, they’re going to be overwhelmed! On some sites, it’s kind of hard to find *anything* good about a reviewed product, and that’s sad. Perhaps folks are just quick to complain and slow to praise??

    • Thanks for stopping by, Pat. Yes, sometimes it’s hard knowing who to trust. While I love the idea of people being able to share tips “over the backyard fence” regarding handymen and babysitters, I hate the thought that one mean person can ruin another in just that way. I read reviews with a grain of salt, for that very reason!

  5. An On-line presence is important. From Yelp to twitter to a web site. I try to read the Yelp reviews or Angies list before I make a purchase or hire a company for an important job. I recently rented a truck from U-haul and if I had checked Yelp about this location I would have quickly stepped away. The owner was a crook. I don’t think one review is going to nail your business especially if you take the time to respond and try to fix the problem. Ebay people nailed me with poor reviews a couple of times when we sold games over the summer. I explained we were facing a learning curve, and publically offered to fix the problem to their satisfaction. It was over.
    I like interactive sites where I can see how the site owner responds and if they respond. People that leave poor reviews to be an ass or because they just don’t get it deserved to be ignored—and hopefully most people do ignore them.
    The monitoring list is helpful!

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Katybeth. I agree that business owners should try to make things right when they become aware of a problem. It’s when they’re completely in the dark about a problem — and wondering why business has dropped off — that concerns me as a Web designer.
      Sites like Amazon that let a reviewer choose a different name especially concern me. While theoretically they’re going to get more honest reviews if the reviewer doesn’t have to sign his/her name, they’re also taking a chance that the reviewer will trash a product for some reason and, by extension, the business owner.
      It’s like with book reviews. Too often, a person will sing a book’s praises, you’ll buy the book, and then you’ll end up wondering if you read the same book!
      Glad your review experience worked out so well.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Tricia. I wonder how many small businesses have been ruined by snarky reviews made by people who have nothing better to do. Words, as we know, are very powerful things, so we must remember to tread gently!

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