Cartoon of unhappy and happy customers thinking about reviews.

Dear Consumer: Do a Small Business a Favor and Write Reviews

Social media is all about personal connections, recommendations and reviews. Whether someone is urging you to agree with them on a political point or raving about their new favorite restaurant in the neighborhood, you will care more the closer you are to them.

This extends to reviews as well. If you are searching for a business on Google, Yelp or wherever, you are likely to not only read the reviews, but be swayed by them. This may be especially true on NextDoor or other apps that are neighborhood-centric.

Unfortunately, just like there is fake news, there are fake reviews. Judging by a long thread on the Facebook help desk, this is a widespread and longstanding problem. But, there are also true reviews that can be devastating for reputation management. All it takes is one person with a suboptimal experience to make someone else think twice.

In addition, there seems to be a cadre of self-appointed food critics out there who really go out of their way to heap on the snark with ample sides of hypercriticism.

What can a small business do? It’s simple: get good reviews from happy customers. Serve them well. Ask for reviews at the point of sale or in emailed invoices. Also, make sure you encourage customers to provide feedback, including constructive criticism, directly through a customer service channel, thus giving you an opportunity to make amends and diminishing the chances of a review rant appearing.

What Comes Around Goes Around

Ask yourself when was the last time you gave a business a review? Given I am engaged in social media marketing, I always feel obligated, if I enjoy an experience, to write a great review. Some recent examples:

For my dentist (Edge Dental) on Google: “Came back for my cleaning today and Dr. Lai answered all my questions. He also scrutinized an area of concern we will check again if it doesn’t improve in a couple of weeks. Great office staff and perfect location on Memorial Drive. I know I am in good hands.”

For my favorite Thai restaurant (Thai Chefs) on Yelp: “The last time I had Thai food this good, I was at an upscale restaurant in Bangkok. This place is a cut above. The food is outstanding. The service is attentive and warm. My first time here and I can’t wait to come back!”

For my favorite auto shop (AAMCO Bellaire) on Google: “I had a check engine light another mechanic couldn’t figure out and then found out if I wanted the dealer to look at it, I would need to drop off the vehicle for at least 48 hours. Beal’s shop ran the codes and asked about the idle speed (like the previous mechanic) and then came up with the correct solution: buy some premium fuel and run it down the highway. That worked! This is my place now for oil changes. Also, I have thought about lifting my Jeep and Beal cautioned me about possible complications. He then spoke to the lift-kit shop and reported back to me that those guys would indeed do it properly. That’s above and beyond service!”

Call it good karma. Put positive vibes out into the universe by giving good online reviews and good reviews may come back to you. Again, though, the best way to generate good reviews is to ask happy customers to write them. It just takes a moment for a beautiful review to blossom.

For more information on social media marketing, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.



Google is Taking Over the World, But You Can Claw Back Some Control

Google is a blessing and a curse. You can find most anything with Google, except sometimes the one thing you are looking for, such as, an old news article. In setting up some Google+ accounts for small businesses hoping to show up on the local search 3-pack (more on that later), I noticed something alarming: you must opt out of letting Google use the pictures you post to your business page for Google’s own advertising.

Repeat: if you post images to promote your business on your Google My Business Google+ page, you might just be letting Google own those images for use in its own promotions. Still, you can opt out with the click of a button, if you follow these screen shots below.

The Privacy Checkup and Security Checkup are innocently suggested as “Some new features for your Google Account.” Check that out. It poses the question, “What changes if you turn on these new features?” Well, it gives you an opportunity to “review and control” how you interface within the Google-sphere and what is public, such as what videos you watch in YouTube. Say what? Remember, YouTube is owned by Google and there is a cross-over with those accounts.

Start here to check your Google settings

Start here to check your Google settings

Notice what it is suggesting here highlighted in pink (emphasis added)

Notice what it is suggesting here highlighted in pink (emphasis added)

Don't just gloss over these options

Don’t just gloss over these options

This is offered for your benefit

This is offered for your benefit

Go through each checklist

Go through each checklist and click Yes to make changes!

There are security and privacy settings

There are security and privacy settings

This is important and it is at the bottom of the screen

This is important and it is at the bottom of the screen

Click DON'T!

Click DON’T!

It only takes a few minutes to gain control and peace of mind

It only takes a few minutes to gain control and peace of mind

Google for Work, Google My Business and the former Google Places are connected to Google+

Google for Work, Google My Business and the former Google Places are connected to Google+ and are Google pages for business

Check out this article that notes unmanned Google business pages will disappear, so take control. Verify your business.

Check out this article that notes unmanned Google business pages will disappear, so take control. Verify your business. For more information, Google it!

Note: You may very well want the YouTube videos to show in conjunction with your Google+ business page if they were posted by your business. But, if they are videos of Fido, unclick that setting to keep your videos (what you watch and post) private. It is a lot to consider, but you can always create a periodic security check day. Mark you calendar for a recurring event that prompts you to recheck security settings on key platforms, apps and accounts, including Google everything. I even created a bookmark in a browser called “Google Everything” so I can keep track of all these accounts and logins. Good luck!

Google for Business and Search Results

It is important to pay attention to the Google presence of your business, especially if you aspire to be in the local search “3-pack,” or the top three search results that are boxed together at the top. Among Google’s next big things is a new option in Google Adwords called Extended Text Ads, which create two headlines and 80 characters of text. If you do this now, you may stand out, but in 2017 the old Adwords format is expected to go away and all the ads will be Extended Text.

Chrome, a Love-Hate Relationship

Another area in which I have a love-hate relationship with Google is in Chrome. I love that many social media, blog and design programs work best in the Chrome browser. I have hated the autofill function, which seems to diligently keep working even when I turned it off. I have multiple clients on Pinterest for Business, and ever time I go to log into Pinterest directly rather than from a scheduling platform, Google Chrome starts by autofilling my personal email, which I don’t even use on my personal Pinterest account. This has become maddening because I need to keep highlighting to delete and even when typing, Chrome autofill is racing to refill with the personal email address. I have gone into advance settings in Chrome to manage this to no avail. Although, I did find there a business address from about 10 years ago that I could not edit unless I went to Google Wallet, which I apparently used once in 2010. I deleted that info from Google Wallet, but only by giving my current address. Still, Chrome is autofilling my personal email on Pinterest, but no other websites. If you have the solution to this annoyance, please email me at

The moral of these stories is that like everything else in life and business, Google is constantly evolving and unless you are living under a rock, you will have to keep up with growth and changes in the digital ecosystem.

For more information on managing social media and content marketing for business, fill out this client questionnaire.