Sometimes, it seems like it's all social, all the time.
But are companies really getting everything they need from the social-media conversation?
There's ample customer engagement in the social scene, but for many organizations, it's also a loud and noisy cocktail party, with lots of guests all clamoring for the host's attention. It's hard to hear precisely what's important--and there's little mechanism for aggregating information into usable intelligence.
Yet companies continue to pump precious amounts of time and money into social. The number of small businesses that have increased their social-media budget has quadrupled, and 43 percent of small businesses now spend more than six hours each week dealing with social media.
But as time progresses, I'm willing to bet companies will find that online reviews offer them a more concentrated customer conversation, one that's easy to listen to and that opens a window into the invisible consumer--the one that got away (and went online to tell about it). Even more important, it's how businesses acquire new customers--after all, when people want to check out a business, they often go to review sites as a first stop, not a Facebook page.
My team at Reputation.com recently did a study researching two residential property management companies. We used patented algorithms we developed to analyze 8,000 online reviews for sentiment and patterns in both review growth and customer perception.
The results provided some valuable insight into customer preference and behavior, suggesting ways companies can be smarter with operations and marketing.
That social is a game changer, there's no doubt. But online reviews are the dark horse in this race, at least in terms of where businesses are currently putting the most focus. As research continues to show how companies can use reviews to better their business practices and improve customer satisfaction and acquisition, I think that will change.