Is the Twitterverse the angriest place on the Internet?

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Angry Tweets

In the seven years since its founding, Twitter has become a go-to place for news updates, witty one-liners, political one-upmanship and even absurdist storytelling. It’s also become a go-to place for intolerant bile. On Sunday night, Nina Davuluri, an American of Indian ancestry, was named Miss America. Immediately, the Twitterverse started spewing. “This is Miss America… not Miss Foreign Country,” said @MeredithRoanell. “Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you,” posted @Blayne_MkItRain. What is it about Twitter? Whether the events are earthshaking or trivial, the site of more than a half-billion accounts has something to say — and often, it’s upset.

Ben Affleck is named the new Batman; the anger flows. George Zimmerman is acquitted; people fly off the handle. Comments on sports, TV shows, politics, news media — when there’s something negative to be said, it will be said (occasionally with poor spelling and IN ALL CAPS) on Twitter. As Stephen Colbert summarized the Miss America outcry on “The Colbert Report,” “And Twitter, as usual, could not be happy.”

David Reiss, a San Diego-based psychiatrist who specializes in personality dynamics, observes that Twitter’s impulsiveness can get the best of people. “It’s very easy to jot something off and hit send, and you can impulsively say something without thinking it through,” he says, noting that it’s the reverse of the classic angry letter you write and then put in a drawer until you cool off. “With Twitter, you don’t need to (do that). And if there is feedback or push back, you don’t necessarily even see it.” As of Friday afternoon, Twitter had not responded to a request from CNN for comment.

‘Anger is more influential’

Such anger isn’t just limited to Twitter, of course. You can find it on other social media platforms, news site comment boards — including on CNN.com — and pretty much all over the Internet. YouTube, for example, also has been known for attracting mean-spirited comments. Still, Twitter is an easy target. Besides the impulsiveness Reiss mentions, there’s a typical litany of virtual-world reasons for Twitter’s vitriol: anonymity, a perceived lack of consequences, a troll-ish desire to stir the pot.

But perhaps the most intriguing was revealed in a study published recently by Beihang University researchers. By analyzing posts on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, they determined that anger is the most powerful online emotion. Of the four basic emotions into which they classified tweets, sadness and disgust barely travel. Joy does better. But anger, like a potent virus, spreads the fastest and most widely of all. “Our results show that anger is more influential than other emotions like joy, which indicates that the angry tweets can spread quickly and broadly in the network,” the researchers wrote.

The idea of Twitter anger is so prominent that Monica Stephens, a geography professor at Humboldt State University in California, put together a map titled “The Geography of Hate.” The project was inspired, in part, by racial slurs on Twitter after President Obama’s re-election. The map highlights sections of the country that engage in certain hate speech based on keywords, aggregated by county and adjusted for population. The results have favored rural areas, which Stephens attributes to insularity and fear of outsiders. Indeed, a more accurate title for the map would be “the geography of xenophobia,” she says. The map certainly hit home with certain parts of the country, Stephens says. “So many people lashed out in anger towards me after seeing it,” she says. “I have hundreds of really angry e-mails that start with the term ‘racist bitch.’”

Anonymity and distance

This isn’t the sort of thing that tends to happen as widely on Facebook or other social media sites. There are a couple reasons for that, says Tammy Vigil, a professor at Boston University’s School of Communication. One is that Facebook is largely a closed system in which you mainly communicate with people you know — unlike Twitter, where a tweet goes out to the whole world. Moreover, Facebook friends can react more directly to vitriolic posts, either by calling the poster out or simply unfriending him or her, she says. In May, the site strengthened policies to stamp out hate speech. “With Facebook, there’s more accountability,” says Vigil. “Most people’s Facebook accounts have multiple pictures of them, they’ve got connections to ‘these are my friends.’ There’s a lot less of the anonymity, so there’s a little less of the disinhibition that occurs.” Twitter also creates more distance, adds Lesley Withers, a communications professor at Central Michigan University. “It’s asynchronous — you’re not chatting real-time with another person — so there’s less of a sense that the other people out there are real,” she says. A phone call or even some kinds of online dialogue establishes a connection that you’re dealing with actual human beings. But on Twitter, that connection isn’t there, so “that allows us to go off in ways that we wouldn’t choose to do if we had to look at another person’s face when we did it.”

Consequences?

Twitter’s brief screeds seldom have consequences, though that may be changing. The site recently created a “report abuse” button and the media — which is often to blame for highlighting anger – is paying more attention to bullying on the site. But the idea of consequences is hard for Twitter users to understand, observes Withers. “I think people don’t think about the long-term ramifications,” she says. “When I talk with students about how they use social media and say that a lot of employers will look to see what kinds of things you’re posting on Facebook or Twitter, I’m surprised by the number of people who say, ‘Any employer that would stalk me that way online, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.’” There are signs that a growing number of Twitter users don’t like the venom in their midst. After the nastiness with Miss America, a number of people responded with positive tweets congratulating her. Some even reprimanded the angry tweeters — and received apologies.

“I am so sorry. I didn’t think before I tweeted what I did. I absolutely did not mean to hurt or offend anyone. Again I am SO very sorry!!!” tweeted @JAyres15. Withers points out that the system has much to overcome. “People use Twitter to get reactions out of others,” she says. “It’s like a popularity contest: If you can put something out there that’s quick and inflammatory and it gets retweeted a ton, that’s your feedback — that’s how you know that it was an interesting or effective tweet. And people don’t seem to be as concerned if the response is positive or negative.” And what works? Let’s all scream it at the top of our lungs: Anger. “Anger is an empowering emotion. You can post something angry and it can make other people feel something. It allows us an opportunity to be dramatic,” says Withers. “And a lot of people really like drama.”

Artikel door Todd Leopold op CNN, 1 oktober 2013.

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Consumers do not buy perfection anymore

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No Perfection

One of the most wonderful transformations that I believe social media has brought about is the destruction of the perfect brand. No longer do consumers expect perfection… but we do expect honesty, customer service, and fulfillment of any promises a company set expectations for.

In a client luncheon last week at Bitwise Solutions, President and CEO Ron Brumbarger told his clients that Bitwise will make mistakes… but that the would always do their best to recover fully from them and look out for the interests of the client. There were quite a few key clients around the table – and the reaction couldn’t have been more optimistic. There was a unanimous complimenting of the customer service and support that Bitwise employees provided.

IMHO, great brand managers always used to do an amazing job of maintaing brand perfection by consistent messaging, graphics, and public relations. Those days are behind us now, though, since companies can no longer control or manipulate social media and what consumers and clients are saying about them. Your customers now hold the key to your brand.

That may seem scary at first… your company may be scrambling to keep their perfect brand alive. Don’t worry about it. In fact… stop it. You’re doing more damage to your company by trying to cover its blemishes than by announcing them in the open. Every company has strengths and weaknesses and ever consumer and client expects problems to occur. It’s not the mistakes that happen, it’s how your company recovers from them.

Even within product ratings and reviews, this is the case. A 5-star rating may actually hurt your sales rather than help them. As I read product reviews, I tend to navigate directly to the negative reviews. I don’t skip the purchase, though. Instead, in reviewing the negative comments, I decide whether or not those are weaknesses that I can live with. Sell me a great gadget with terrible documentation any day! I don’t read product manuals.

When I see a 5-star rating, I typically leave the review altogether and look elsewhere. Nothing is perfect and I want to be informed of the imperfections. I don’t buy perfection anymore. I don’t believe in perfection anymore. At an e-commerce presentation last year, a major electronics manufacturer said that perfect reviews often hurt their product sales. No one else believes in perfection, either.

It may seem illogical, but you may want to market your strengths and fully admit your weaknesses if you’d like to increase sales, set expectations, and be able to fulfill them. A happy customer isn’t a customer with a perfect product… it’s a customer that’s happy with your company, how well they’ve executed, and – most of all – how well you’ve recovered from your mistakes or failures.

Artikel door Douglas Karr op The Marketing Technology Blog, 27 juni 2013.

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The risk of giving a bad review

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Bad Reviews

Meeting professionals have always relied heavily on recommendations from peers in order to help us narrow down our vast list of choices in selecting vendors. I simply don’t know how we would make good decisions in the same amount of time if we didn’t have access to information about the experiences of others. In recent years, what has always been an informal process for us, has expanded heavily online to include individual buyers and hosts of social events on numerous consumer review websites. With that, a public platform has been offered to anyone who wants to either celebrate or condemn a vendor.

You may have seen a recent news story about a guest house in Hudson, N.Y, that issued a policy of fining group hosts $500 each for any bad review posted by a member of their party on an internet site. The policy, since changed, was a ridiculous one by any standard of good service and largely unenforceable from a practical or legal perspective. But it definitely served as a warning to consumers about the growing awareness of host facilities to protect their online reputations from disgruntled customers. They are more aware than ever that reviews are influencing sales.

The fact that anyone is willing to share his or her experiences is valuable to each of us as a buyer. In my experience, most meeting professionals are willing to speak freely to one another about their experiences on a one-to-one basis, but they tend to limit their comments online. Speaking publicly is valuable, but it also has risks. Industry forums encourage members to share only good reviews, and allow the buyer to determine the bad ones based on a relative absence of positive commentary. Doing so protects any individual from unwittingly defaming a vendor with a negative review. While I understand the inclination, I don’t agree that it’s a necessary or even helpful step for any of us to take.

I’m frustrated by what seems to be a growing fear of sharing our experiences openly and fairly with fellow professionals. I think we should share the bad as well as the good.

Under the law, defamation involves making a false statement that harms a reputation. Thus, the best defense against any potential accusation that your comments have harmed a business is by telling only the truth.

Begin by separating the emotion from the situation. It’s easy to feel personally wronged when you’ve worked closely with an on-site team, paid a huge bill, and in turn are left looking poorly to your employer or attendees. But your feelings about what happened at the venue aren’t the issue; only the facts about what brought you to that point are relevant. Opinions can be shared, but not in such a way that tells a reader how to act on your opinion. Omit exaggeration, and never report anything you didn’t personally experience, no matter how reliable the source. Most of all, stay true to the intent of the review, which is to offer information that can benefit others, and to help your peers make better marketplace choices.

Meeting professionals take notice when someone tosses around the question of potential liability, and I’m concerned that this trend toward repercussions for reviewers will eventually limit our willingness to share valid and helpful information with one another. Instead, let’s be empowered to share, based on a solid understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate.

Artikel door Elizabeth Zielinski, CMM op Meetings & Conventions.com, 11 augustus 2014.

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Hotel that fines guests for bad reviews gets a taste of justice

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MeetingReview.com blog about reviews

So, it was all a joke. When Hudson, NY’s Union Street Guest House notified guests, “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party.”

Asked to explain this to Page Six, which first broke the story, the hotel’s proprietors at first declined to say anything. (Lesson 1 in the crisis manual: Don’t ignore bad news.)

Then, still refusing to speak on the record even after the story went viral, the hoteliers offered this defense: The policy was “meant to be tongue-in-cheek . . . We like to have fun. We’re not trying to screw people over. We have five rooms. It was never meant to be some horrible rule.”

OK, so your transparently and viciously horrible rule wasn’t “meant” to be a horrible rule. Your attempt to rob your own guests in multiples of $500 wasn’t “screwing people over.” It was actually “fun”! Just another form of entertainment. Like Ebola!

And by the way, you have five rooms! (Not 11? Not four? Who cares?)


Idea: Union Street Guest House of Hudson, NY, rename yourself The Instant Karma Inn.

That would a) show a sense of humor; and b) possibly save your business, which under its present name and management is about as viable as selling rotary-dial phones.

The saga reads like it dates from the bleary dawn of the Web era — 1995, say. Because it’s been about that long since anybody smart enough to run a business with gross sales of 25 cents a year or more has been this dumb about the Web.

Union Street Guest House actually thought it could play whack-a-mole: Exterminate bad reviews ruthlessly, one by one, using threats, instead of dealing with the underlying problems and creating happy customers who will leave good reviews.

Now people are stampeding to Yelp to unload nastygrams on Union Street. The little B&B thought it was silencing naysayers by handing out megaphones.

Some of the new one-star reviews that have emerged seem chillingly plausible: “I stayed here as part of a group attending a wedding in 2013. I wanted to leave a negative review then and would have done it if the $500 threat was leveled at me, because I’d like to see someone try to take $500 from me for leaving a bad review. However, the threat was far more insidious — they threatened to withhold $500 from the deposit left by the couple getting married. I felt they didn’t need or deserve that hassle, so I left it alone. Until now.”

Other critiques seem to fall under the category of “creative writing.” (“Needless to say that I was shocked and appalled when my 13-year-old niece was thrown into a pit of used hypodermic needles.”)

But, hey, Union Street told us all it had a sense of humor, right? We know this place is all about the “tongue-in-cheek,” so no problem there. To get a big merry chuckle out of the whole nutty staff, try taking $500 out of their cash register. It’ll be hilarious!

Long before the Web came around, businesses used to tell each other, “The customer is always right.” Now the customer is not only right, he’s armed.

Social media is like that old desktop toy that said, “Complaint department, take a number,” with a numbered tag attached to the pin of a hand grenade. Only instead of the customer getting blown to smithereens, it’s your business that disappears in a cloud of smoke.

As commenter Matthew K. from Los Angeles put it on Yelp, “It is just a genuinely awful place to stay. Welcome to the 21st century Union Street.”

Life is unfair, but Yelp is sweet fancy justice. Union Street Guest House, when the “out of business” sign goes up on your front door, we’ll all give that development a five-star rave.

Artikel door Kyle Smith op New York Post, 6 augustus 2014.

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In the face of ruinous online reviews, businesses today are turning the tables

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Artikel van Entrepreneur op MeetingReview.com

Though it may require some tongue-biting or fist-clenching from time to time, most business owners live and die by the motto that the customer is always right.

The emergence of online review sites like Yelp, however — which were developed to turn up the volume on consumer feedback — has pushed this age-old dynamic into uncharted territories.

With anonymous complaints they deem untrue (at best) or commercially devastating (at worst), today, business owners are looking to take back power.

This month, the Supreme Court will hear a case brought against Yelp by small-business owner Joe Hadeed, who alleges that seven anonymous and fraudulent reviewers lacerated sales at his carpet cleaning company.

Hadeed, who says none of the reviews match any time, location or sales data he has on file, wants the identities of the reviewers revealed; Yelp argues that they are protected by the First Amendment.

But Hadeed isn’t alone. In addition to a storm of similar lawsuits circling Yelp, a handful of businesses and service-centric startups are taking action to stem abuse at the hands of online trolls.

If the internet has created a space where consumers are free to sound off at will, the question then becomes: to what extent do business owners have the right to retaliate?

A Two-Way Street

At San Francisco-headquartered Airbnb, reviews are a two-way street.

While the company encourages guests to evaluate their accommodations, it also offers hosts the opportunity to appraise their guests.

As a peer-to-peer community, this makes sense — which is not to say that paying customers don’t feel uneasy about having the lens fixed on them.

But consumers have always been rated by businesses in one way or another, explains Michael Fertik, founder of Reputation.com, a digital management firm in Redwood City, Calif. This is just the latest incarnation of being blacklisted from a restaurant, for instance, or receiving a poor credit score.

And more and more companies, like transportation startup Uber, are treading a similar path.

Though Uber consumers may be unaware, in addition to being able to rate their drivers, they are being surreptitiously rated, too. Reportedly, a five-star system maintained by the Uber fleet takes into account whether passengers have given misleading directions, are too drunk, or mistreat their drivers.

However, such a system can come with unknowing costs to paying customers. One Washington, D.C., Uber driver even admitted to a passenger that he’d responded to her request over another because “her score was so high.”

Curtailing Anonymity

In recent years, Airbnb has also taken additional measures to curtail anonymity within its community, which likely resulted in disastrous situations like this, where a young woman’s apartment was “burglarized, vandalized and thoroughly trashed” by a guest trolling the site under the guise of a pseudonym.

The company introduced Verified ID last April, a feature that encourages users to link their online identities (GoogleFacebook andLinkedIn) with offline data, including personal information or a scanned photo ID.

While Fertik believes that anonymity encourages free speech without repercussion, he argues that, generally, consumers give more credence to online reviews that they perceive to be attached to an actual person.

“People appreciate the idea that you’re attaching your name to your commentary,” he said. “It gives it more oomph.”

And because reviews are crucial to the livelihoods of businesses, it’s not a question of “fighting back” against negative comments, Fertik says, so much as enhancing the positive.

One way in which businesses can change the conversation, he suggests, is by actively collecting their own reviews from satisfied customers.

“Some Customers Need to Be Fired.”

While some businesses are merely evaluating their consumers, others are giving them the boot.

Restaurant reservation coordinator OpenTable, for instance, has a penalty system in place for untoward diners: patrons who flake on reservations four times over the course of a year without cancelling in advance will have their accounts swiftly deactivated.

“Some customers,” Fertik acknowledges, “need to be fired.” However, he maintains that this practice should be “an absolute last resort reserved for particularly abusive outliers.”

In one scenario, however, an OpenTable user complained about getting sacked prematurely.

Her account was suspended without warning, she said, because she arrived early on several occasions — or perhaps because she was seated immediately without checking in.

Tiffany Fox, senior director of corporate communications at OpenTable, explained that the no-show policy exists on top of reminders that are sent to patrons 36 or 24 hours in advance of their reservations — which can be cancelled or modified instantly.

In the event of an error as described above, Fox says that consumers are welcome to dispute their no-shows, and that attendance can usually be verified via credit card receipts or, in the event of cash payment, by reaching out to the restaurant directly.

Nevertheless, the Yelp suit, as well as the shifting way in which companies like Airbnb, Uber and OpenTable are assessing their users, shows that today it’s businesses — not consumers — who are increasingly seeking the final word.

Artikel door Geoff Weiss op Entrepreneur, 14 april 2014.

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Nielsen survey says … consumers rank Yelp most influential, most trustworthy, and with highest quality reviews

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MeetingReview.com: Nielsen survey july 2014

Last year, we shared the findings of a Nielsen survey that showed consumers agree with something we’ve known all along: Yelp drives local purchases. The results of that survey were pretty impactful:

  • Virtually all Yelp users (98%) have made a purchase at a business they found on Yelp, with nearly 90% of them doing so within a week

  • 4 out of 5 Yelp users visit Yelp because they intend to buy a product or service

  • Yelp users search on Yelp for everything from restaurants to spas to hotels to locksmiths and everything in between

This year, Nielsen conducted a new survey, polling more than 1,000 US adults who use user reviews sites, and dug further to find the answer to a question business owners have been asking us for years: How does Yelp compare to other online review sites?

The answer: When compared to TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and other local directories, people name Yelp as the review site most frequently used when searching for local businesses because they see it as the most influential, most trustworthy and with the highest quality reviews. People chose Yelp:

  • 4.5 times more often than Angie’s List and nearly 3 times more often than TripAdvisor as being the most influential review site when making final purchase decisions

  • Nearly 3 times more often than Angie’s List and nearly 1.5 times more often than TripAdvisor when ranking sites with the most trustworthy reviews

  • 2.5 times more often than Angie’s List when choosing which sites have the best quality reviews

When searching for restaurants specifically, Yelp is named as the most frequently used review site, cited by consumers nearly 3 times as often as OpenTable and almost 4 times as often as Zagat.

In addition, 84% of consumers that responded to the survey named user reviews as the most important content on review sites, followed by average star rating at 77%, as well as map/location, business contact information, and business hours. As Yelp has been shown to have industry leading data quality in these areas, it’s understandable that the choice to use our site is an easy one for consumers. And the best part is, business owners can update that information in theirYelp Business Owner Account for free in just a few minutes.

So you don’t have to take our word for it. Consumers agree Yelp is the go-to source for the best info on local businesses.

Artikel door Matt H. op Yelp official blog, 7 juli 2014.

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Is een review een cadeautje?

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MeetingReview artikel: Is een review een cadeau? Ik lees nu circa 10 jaar reviews en veel daarvan gaan verder dan een beoordeling door middel van een cijfer of sterren. Voor de ontvangende partij zit er waardevolle feedback tussen. Van feedback wordt wel gezegd dat het een cadeautje is maar kunnen we dit ook van een review zeggen? Effectieve feedback kenmerkt zich door 6 spelregels waardoor het niet kwetsend is:

  1. Noem eerst iets positiefs dat verband houdt met het onderwerp
  2. Zeg objectief wat er gebeurde waar je kritiek op hebt en spreek in de ik-vorm
  3. Vermijd het woord “maar”
  4. Vertel wat hiervan het gevolg was (ik-vorm)
  5. Geef een suggestie hoe dit beter zou kunnen
  6. Degene die de feedback ontvangt gaat niet in de verdediging maar geeft aan het te begrijpen en kan om verduidelijking vragen

Als ik vanuit deze spelregels klantbeoordelingen lees dan komen de spelregels 1, 2 en 5 regelmatig terug. Bij een goede review lees ik ook de gevolgen en juist die zijn van groot belang voor de gereviewde. Gelukkig stellen ook steeds meer reviewplatforms de mogelijkheid open om te kunnen reageren (spelregel 6). Maar hoe toon je online nu aan dat je ook iets gaat doen met de feedback. Kortom, waaruit blijkt dat je hebt geluisterd? MeetingReview artikel: Is een review een cadeau?In mijn optiek: alleen mogelijk door een reactie te geven. Bedank in ieder geval de reviewer online en nodig deze uit om offline het gesprek te vervolgen om zaken te verduidelijken. Klanten die de tijd nemen om je te voorzien van een waardevolle terugkoppeling over je product of dienst zijn je fans. Ze hebben immers het beste met je voor. Mijn conclusie : reviews die over je product of dienst worden geschreven door hun zijn absoluut een cadeautje!     Artikel door Marco Kole, 22 juli 2014. Meer tips over het verkrijgen van reviews lees je in onze toolkit.

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Google Glass fans fight restaurant ban with bad reviews

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MeetingReview blog: Google Glass Ban

It’s only been a few months since the infamous anti-Google Glass bar incident in San Francisco, and now it looks like some users of the device are fighting back.

It all started in April when Google Glass user Katy Kasmai was asked to remove her device at a restaurant called Feast in New York City. Instead of complying with the request, she decided to leave. But soon after, Kasmai posted a one-star review of the restaurant, setting off the latest in a series of public debates about Glass.

Kasmai’s review, which appears on Google’s restaurant reviews, reads, “Got denied service on a Sunday afternoon for wearing Google Glass.” In addition to the short one-star review, she also posted the following message to her Google+ page, which has over 3,000 followers:
“For the first time ever this place, Feast, in #NYC just asked that I remove +Google Glass because customers have complained of privacy concerns in the past. Never has happened to me before in the one year I’ve had Glass.”

What happened next was a series of similarly negative messages posted on the review page and in the comments of Kasmai’s Google+ post, criticizing the restaurant for its anti-Google Glass policy.
Kasmai is the organizer of a Google Glass user group in New York City, so support for her position was likely bolstered by her ties to the Glass community, as well as her role as an unofficial ambassador for the device.

On user forums and websites, there are numerous conversations describing both positive and negative experiences related to using Glass in public. However, these conversations are rarely leveraged in such a public way against an establishment that prohibits the use of Glass on its property.

“When the first thing that comes up when you search Feast in Google is a 3.1, it can really hurt a restaurant like us,” the restaurant’s manager told EV Grieve, a local blog covering New York’s East Village community. “Then you have 13 people, which is about half the total reviews, who have never been to our restaurant let alone live in NYC, leave you one-star reviews … It’s malicious and technically a violation of Google’s own terms for leaving reviews.”

Weeks after the initial review, the incident spilled over to Twitter, where Kasmai and the restaurant exchanged public messages.
But despite criticism from other Glass fans, it appears that most commenters on the original review support the ban. In the past week, many commenters who posted on the restaurant’s Google review page offered their support.

“Any restaurant that stands up to the Google Glass bullies deserves 1,000 stars.”
- Becky Savastio

“I love the idea of kicking out douchebags who wear google glass.”
- Daniel Bonthius

“[Feast] does not to deserve to be bullied by Glassholes who are trying to destroy its reputation with bullsh*t one-star reviews online.”
- Juan Carlos Molina

“Very happy to be away from privacy-invading #Glass. Luddites serve the best food!”
- Bill Ninjaman

On Yelp, Feast currently has a strong 4-star rating, with only several reviewers mentioning Glass, most of whom also support the ban.

In follow-up tweets captured in a screenshot and posted on Kasmai’s blog, it appears that the two parties have may have come to a resolution.

Still, the incident may foreshadow similar conflicts in the future, particularly now that Glass is available to all consumers.

 

Artikel door Adario Strange op Mashable, 24 mei 2014.

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Het nieuwe verkopen noemen we Social Sales

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MeetingReview blog Social Sales

Een paar weken geleden verscheen in mijn tijdlijn op LinkedIn een post over “Social Sales”. Een afbeelding, meer dan 500 likes, een paar comments, geen bronvermelding. Toch maar eens gaan lezen.

Ik zie een oude wereld in grijs en een nieuwe wereld in kleur; van Sales 1.0 naar Social Sales. Van een focus op het vinden en verrijken van leads naar het delen van informatie en interactie met anderen op social networks. Van het najagen van een sales demo als laatste drempel om daarna tot verkoop over te kunnen gaan naar bloggen, sharen, liken en dan toeslaan.Sales model

Eigenlijk wil dit plaatje nog veel meer zeggen. De push-benadering van reclameboodschappen zenden en vooral het eindeloos afspraken najagen om maar zichtbaar te zijn bij de klant en de propositie naar voren te duwen, werkt niet meer. Het gaat nu om de pull-benadering, om inbound-marketing, waarbij de klant zelf wel zijn informatie verzamelt en de verkoper vooral moet faciliteren. Is het niet zo dat 60 tot 70% van de koopprocessen van grote producten of diensten door de klant zelf gedaan worden, dus zonder direct contact met een verkoper of leverancier? In plaats daarvan wordt er gebruik gemaakt van reviews van andere klanten, testimonials, websites van leveranciers en informatie uit het persoonlijke netwerk van de klant. Het weegt allemaal mee in een beoordeling, zonder dat de verkoper aan tafel heeft gezeten. Een werkelijk mooi voorbeeld is de weblog www.foodreporter.nl met ‘inspirerend culinair nieuws’, powered by food groothandel Deli XL. Op dit platform worden succesverhalen uit de horeca gedeeld in de vorm van interviews, videoverslagen, reviews etc. Met dit initiatief slaagde Deli XL erin om kwaliteit en innovatie omtrent food op een positieve manier beter aan haar merk te verbinden en levert het waardevolle leads en contacten op.

De verschuiving van push naar pull duwt de B2B-marketeer naar een nieuw werkterrein, waarbij hij zelf de communicatieve kar moet gaan trekken. Hij gaat met een commerciële pet op actief engagen en educaten op zijn social networks! Welbeschouwd zit de kracht van engagement, education en social networking in content. En nu gaat de marketeer dus branded content maken. Als dat maar geen ‘Wij van WC-Eend bloggen over WC-Eend’ wordt. Dan wordt pullmarketing toch weer pushmarketing.

Artikel op SWOCC, 26 juni 2014.

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Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses (3-9-2006)

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MeetingReview blog: Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses

Online ratings: It started with restaurants, and now all manner of enterprises find themselves subject to customer opinions

Samy Fars ran a successful restaurant for seven years in San Bruno before opening Cafe Grillades in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley last spring.

Fars planned to introduce the cafe gradually, opening with a small staff and working out the kinks before starting to advertise or even putting up a sign. That kind of soft opening has traditionally worked well in the restaurant business, because professional reviewers often don’t visit a new place until it has been open a month or more.

But from its first weekend, Cafe Grillades attracted a different type of reviewer — average customers who posted their opinions on a Web site called Yelp.

And, to Fars’ dismay, some of them slammed it mercilessly.

“This place truly sucks,” wrote one reviewer. “It’s void of any atmosphere whatsoever, service is nonexistent, food not even worth mentioning. The hospital cafeteria at UCSF is more inviting.”

Fars and his cafe received a painful introduction to a trend in the business world — online reviews of local enterprises.

Today a growing number of companies such as Yelp, CitySearch, Angie’s List and Yahoo Local offer people a chance to rate everything from hairdressers and plumbers to child care centers and dentists.

Restaurants like Cafe Grillades have been the canary in the coal mine, feeling the impact of online reviews long before other kinds of local businesses.

Because people dine out more often than they choose dentists, restaurants so far make up the bulk of online reviews. But as review sites become more established, they will gradually accumulate entries about all kinds of businesses.

For consumers, online review sites offer a valuable storehouse of information to help with daily tasks such as choosing an electrician or a dinner venue.

For small businesses, these sites have the potential to revolutionize marketing and promotion — creating unprecedented opportunities but also, as in the case of Cafe Grillades, some unfamiliar risks.

Five years ago, an ambitious restaurant owner had to worry about the verdict of a handful of professional reviewers at magazines and newspapers. Now that owner faces the judgment of thousands of potential amateur reviewers.

“In this day and age, there’s nowhere to hide,” said Melinda Lucas, owner of Paneless Window Cleaning, a Seattle business that has attracted a significant number of customers through positive reviews on sites like Judy’s Book and Angie’s List. “Anyone can give you a review that can totally make or break your business. It’s made it so you have to be A+ on the ball all the time.”

Some sites charge

Online review sites — or local search sites as they’re known in the industry — operate in a variety of ways. Most allow anyone to become a member for free and then post reviews of local businesses. (Angie’s List is unusual in that it charges members a monthly fee.)

The sites say they try to remove reviews that are deceptive, such as those from a business owner posing as a customer to praise his own products. But they do not remove negative reviews written by legitimate users.

And while most sites solicit advertising, ads don’t influence the content of reviews. They just provide higher visibility for the business, such as a sponsored-listing box at the top of a list of search results.

The sites essentially take a traditional part of the small business world — word-of-mouth referrals — and multiply it to a previously unimaginable degree. They offer small firms the ability to spread the word about great service for free.

“Small businesses are often seen struggling against large brands,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp. “They don’t have the $1 billion a year that Starbucks spends on marketing. But Yelp takes their positive word-of-mouth and amplifies it online.”

Some enthusiastic entrepreneurs say that online reviews have become the cornerstone of their business.

Artikel op SFGate, 3 september 2006.

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