Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Businesses and social media – where everyone publically reviews you

Posted in social networking and business, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on November 5, 2010

It used to be possible to launch a local business and focus on the needs and priorities of a local community, in offering it a unique value proposition. This value proposition only needed to be unique in any real sense there, and for that target community. So if you were opening what would be the only pharmacy in your town, it would not matter that there were pharmacies already in place and functioning in other communities world-wide. Local could and did mean just that – local, and for your marketing reach and sales practices going out and in customer and community response coming back in.

The Internet has changed all of that and in both directions. But for this posting I will only consider the community response side of this. So to continue with the pharmacy example, there are many businesses in this market space that sell across geographic boundaries and regardless of physical distance to the online customer. But for this posting let’s consider the physically localized business that only really seeks to market and sell locally as their business model. To stay competitive they are increasingly likely to market online but would do so with a distinct focus on local online advertising and marketing. This type of local only business might, for example, use pay per click online marketing services but with all bid key words tied to specific zip codes or postal codes for their local community areas. That said, these businesses still have to deal with a more wide-ranging online crowd sourced community response though and for many reasons and from an increasing range of directions.

An increasingly important source of this online response is organized and channeled through ratings and review sites that crowd-source for feedback and opinion. At the very least responding to this means including a wider range of online in your due diligence in monitoring what is being said about your business and where. And a geographically locally facing and oriented business can find feedback coming in from unexpected directions and distances, and from sources that are difficult if not impossible to even identify as to specific reviewer.

A sampling of these review sights would probably include at least one like YELP business reviews, and certainly for cities in the United States and with a concentration in California – where this site started. There are a great many options out there for submitting and reading consumer sourced reviews, and for both geographic regions which can be extensive, and for specific markets (e.g. restaurants and dining.) Sites like foursquare include shared reviews and opinions, leads and idea and more as parts of a more inclusive social networking experience. And many online yellow pages offer crowd sourced reviews as an option for bringing in web traffic and business. More and more web sites and businesses that do business online are moving into this aspect of social media, and for a reason. People have opinions and want to share them, and read and hear the opinions of others too.

I have pointed out the importance of review sites and sites with significant crowd sourced review features and sections and they are important, but sites like Facebook enter into this as well, where both individuals and businesses can and do set up profile pages. And Facebook profiles come with walls that others can and do post to, and this is just as central to the Facebook experience as friending is. And the most important wall postings about a given business may not be posted on that business’ profile wall page, but rather on a reviewer’s page and wall.

And blogs and YouTube and an increasing range of options all offer opportunity to share opinions and reviews, and in both text and image, video included.

I have written two postings that strongly connect to this one recently with:

Social Media and Finding a Balance in the Face of Conflict and
Social Media and the Boundaries of Propriety.

My focus here is on the diversity and reach of these resources and of the need to continually be reaching out to identify where your business or organization is appearing as a topic of discussion and opinion, and sometimes ill-informed. YELP may be primarily United States and California oriented but businesses in Paris and London are also reviewed there now and more will follow.

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