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Should brands ask for reviews?

April 27, 2010

A few months ago, I stayed in a hotel. On the little card that held my room key/card was something like this:

“Let us know how your stay went at url.com”

I forget what the review site was, but I know it wasn’t Yelp. It might have been travelocity, or tripadvisor, or something else. But I thought that was interesting. The reality is, there are a growing number of places where I could have reviewed the hotel. I could have done it on Twitter, FourSquare, or Yelp. I could have done it here on this blog, on LinkedIn, or on Facebook.

Indeed, there is no limit to where I could have reviewed the hotel. So when the hotel told me where to go, it stuck in my head.

This article is a well written article that cations against soliciting reviews on Yelp. It’s an incredibly detailed, well-written argument against asking for a good review. It’s called “Buying Yelp Reviews is Bad for Business”.

And I agree.

Offering something for a review isn’t a good long-term strategy. But asking for a good review, and asking for a review are different. Pointing people to Yelp, or Facebook, or whatever is a good strategy because it helps ‘control’ the conversation.

By control, I mean in a place where the brand knows to look.

In a place where other people know to look.

That could be a Facebook page, where people are instructed to ‘like’ the brand. Or it could be in a brand created community where people are encouraged to speak their mind. It doesn’t matter where, but more and more, I think it matters that brands should pick a place.

Think of it as a room.

Think of it as a room of your customers, all chatting about their experiences. They will talk about the good, and they will most-likely talk about the bad. When they talk about the bad, the brand gets to learn. If the bad is wrong, then the brand gets to teach.

“I stayed at such and such hotel and the hi-speed didn’t work”.

Response:

“Did you get the code from the front desk that allows all guests to have free hi-speed internet access?”

Etc.

So think of this room as a place where you can occasionally offer deals to your best customers. You can ask for advice on new things (like a focus group). Or, you can just monitor it, and move conversations to it that are happening elsewhere.

This will be online, so it will be a website. But the tactic used will depend on your target market, and the time and money you have to spend.

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