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How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

mccauley servicesIt’s every business owner’s worst nightmare—the negative online review. Impossible to control, people feel like they can say whatever they want behind the anonymity of the internet. Sites like Google, Yelp, and Kudzu allow consumers to rate and review everything from restaurants to plastic surgeons so other patrons can know what to expect. While these sites offer people a place to really sing your praises, they also give unhappy customers a venue for retaliation.

When you inevitably meet the day that you receive an angry review online, here are a few things to remember:

Don’t ignore it. It won’t disappear. You may think that negative reviews online don’t really affect your business, but the internet is becoming the new word of mouth. If your friends urge you to stay away from a restaurant because the waiters are jerks, you’re more likely to try a different place. By ignoring online reviews, you’re letting unhappy customers dictate what hundreds or even thousands of potential customers see as an online representation of your business meaning it’s equally important to respond in a timely manner. Furthermore, it’s meaningful to customers who write negative reviews for someone to reach out and let them know their voice has been heard. Replying to a negative review will not only redeem your company’s online reputation, but might even help you gain back a disgruntled client.

There are rare occasions you may want to ignore certain reviews like when you come across one from five years ago. It’s better to ignore that than open up an old can of worms. Seek professional help from an experienced reputation management company to get more information on when NOT to respond.

Never respond negatively.  Kill ‘em with kindness, but don’t be a pushover, either. While it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of bad reviews, the internet is never a place to argue. Online etiquette is easily muddled when typed instead of said in person. Don’t blame the person or try to defend yourself in a belligerent way. Instead, phrase things in a reconciliatory tone that doesn’t reflect poorly on your business. If they get the facts wrong, correct them! If they’re complaining about the worst haircut ever and you’re a dermatologist—say so! If reviewers are making detrimental claims that can be refuted with evidence, we encourage you to link to that evidence in your response so researchers will have confirmation of your claims. For example, if someone is claiming you’ve been sanctioned by the Better Business Bureau, and your slate is clean, link to your BBB profile for validation. Additionally, giving them business contact information in your response is beneficial as it can help keep them from retaliating via online reviews that are visible to everyone.

Apologize for the bad experience, and make amends. Most often bad online reviews are about bad customer service. People write when their service expectations just weren’t met. Just because one customer had a bad experience, doesn’t mean your company is bad at customer service all the time, though. Without admitting fault, say you’re sorry that the client’s service expectations weren’t met and ask for an opportunity to earn back their business. Whether it’s a gift certificate or a replacement product, a repeat customer is worth the small cost of making sure their testimonial is a positive one.

If it’s serious, get assistance. While most people are genuinely disgruntled, there are some online reviewers who are just mad at the world. If negative online reviews turn into harassment, don’t hesitate to seek help. As a customer relationship management firm, we know that laws regarding evidence on the internet are still being firmed up, and it’s always smarter to cover your bases.

Maintaining your online reputation is more than keeping your website up to date and staying active on social media. Responding openly when you get a negative online review shows that your clients and their positive experiences are your top priorities. For more online marketing tips and the latest in internet news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

McCauley Marketing Services’ Top Blogs of 2011

It’s the time of year when new organizations and people alike enjoy recapping the last year. What were the ups and downs? We thought we’d do the same and outline the most popular blogs McCauley had to offer in 2011! Check out our picks below and see if you agree.

Best Photo of the Week: Knowing When to Ask for Marketing Help

While we take pride in trying to find the funniest stock photos to use in these short blogs, this poor, crying little baby is probably one of our favorites. Maybe it’s the mini-office furniture, the baby-sized suit and wig, or the fact that we’ve all had days when we feel like this little gal, but this photo is just too funny to pass up.

Best PR Advice: The Lost Art of Conversation

Technology makes our lives a million times easier, but it doesn’t capture the nuances that are a part of in-person communication. Because so much about the ways we communicate is non-verbal, there’s a distinct element of internet communication that lacks the subtleties that are present when we pick up the phone or meet someone for coffee to discuss business. McCauley Marketing’s emphasis is on open lines of communication with all of our clients.

Best Website Design Advice: How to Build a Successful Website

Websites are more than just words on an internet page and corresponding pictures. While it may seem like that’s all there is to it, the truth is that the recipe for an effective website involves a lot of moving parts all working together for a positive consumer experience. Here we list the ingredients for a good website and how to bake one up!

Best Social Media Advice: Is Your Brand Social-Friendly?

There’s no denying that social media is the biggest boom in both every day and commercial communications. Making sure your brand is social media friendly involves more than just opening a Facebook account, but utilizing the myriad types of media available and making certain you emphasize quality over quantity with your posts.

Best Writing Advice: Gotcha Grammar: The Most Common Writing Mistakes Explained—Conquering the Apostrophe

It’s hard to know all the rules and exceptions to the rules in the English language. McCauley Marketing Services’ new series on grammar hopes to make these rules a little easier to understand. Our first blog in the series debuted in December as we took on the ever-difficult apostrophe. With copywriters on hand, the apostrophe is a grammatical element near and dear to our hearts.

Now that 2011 is on its way out, we want to know what blog topics you’re interested in learning more about. Tell us in the comments below what advertising, social media, public relations, web design, or writing blogs you’d like us to write in 2012!

Social Media Etiquette: What’s Crossing the Digital Line?

Tips for Online EtiquetteThe New York Times columnist and author of Social Q’s: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries, and Quagmires of Today, Philip Galanes is an Emily Post of the modern day. In his column and book, Galanes offers advice fit for the technology-laden communication world in which we live: cell phone and email etiquette, social media manners, internet decorum, and more.

Galanes says that while internet and email have made communication easier, these technologies have also made it easier to ignore people’s feelings or general decorum since we aren’t being rude or hurting someone’s feelings in person. McCauley Marketing Services discussed this phenomenon in our blog The Lost Art of Conversation.

While social networks and email are convenient, a huge part of communication is nonverbal. Even when you’re on the phone with someone, clues like pauses, voice inflection, and tone of voice help to clue us in to another person’s mood, feelings, and more. While we all like to think that business is strictly business, the truth is that emotions play a huge part in maintaining a positive business image. Think about the last public relations disaster you read about, chances are someone was offended in the process.

In an interview with Terry Gross, Galanes says that before the age of internet communication “we could hear a little hitch in someone’s voice and think, ‘Oh, oh, there’s a problem. I better circle back around to that.’ So we don’t do that anymore. Everything now is type and send, type and send.”

This is especially important for businesses which often get caught in the same traps that individuals do when it comes to communication and the internet. Here are a few of McCauley Marketing Services’ tips on how to make sure your business avoids internet indecency:

If anyone is unhappy, pick up the phone. Whether a client sends you an angry email or you’re unsatisfied with a business partner’s conduct, part of a good customer relationship management strategy is to address the issue in-person or over the phone. Email exchanges, as Galanes mentions, can easily become heated since we don’t have a face or voice to associate with the recipient. Just like it’s easy to rant to yourself driving home in the car, things can be said in email that we wouldn’t normally say out loud to someone else.

It’s also easier for things to be misconstrued over email. Was that a joke? Sarcasm? Or is your contact actually mad? Until they come up with different fonts for all the subtle minutiae involved in speaking face to face (tone of voice, eye contact, hand gestures, etc.), an important element of public relations is to make sure the person with whom you are communicating is on the same page as you and vice versa. Misunderstandings can often turn into long strings of emails with people trying to clarify and understand each other when a quick phone call easily and swiftly help both parties interpret what’s going on.

Another important element of internet manners, especially for medical businesses, law firms, and the like, is not to disclose any patient or client information. While this seems like a major “duh!” for all businesses, sometimes we get carried away or accidentally give too much information while attempting to answer people’s questions. Make sure you follow all the HIPAA and other applicable regulations when you post things online or compose an email.

It’s also crucial not to give detailed advice via the internet. We’ve seen people ask questions on social networks about legal situations, medical conditions, and more. While it may be tempting to quickly contribute your two cents, patients can misinterpret your advice as a diagnosis or law. When someone asks a question online, always qualify your answer, remain nondescript, and recommend they come in for further examination of their situation because there are often more details than can fit on a Facebook page.

Overall, the key to successful digital communication for business is to try to get into contact with people in-person or over the phone as often as possible to avoid any e-misunderstandings.

For more information on what we do at McCauley Advertising or more marketing tips, check out our blog.

Gotcha Grammar: The Most Common Writing Mistakes Explained—Conquering the Apostrophe

Our team of copywriters creates large volumes of content every day. From print ads to website copy for education and search engine optimization (SEO), there are words written by marketing professionals on pretty much every subject you could imagine nowadays. Grammar is one of the most important elements of copywriting. While proofreading is crucial to preventing grammatical errors, sometimes they just slip through. We understand that the English language is pretty confusing sometimes. There are plenty of exceptions to every rule.

One of the most common errors in writing is misuse of the apostrophe. There are three accepted uses of an apostrophe:

  1. In possessive nouns (to show something belongs to someone: John’s blog.)
  2. To show the omission of letters or numbers (like in contractions: can’t, don’t, the ‘60s, etc.)
  3. To pluralize lowercase letters (like in “mind your p’s and q’s; not necessary when you pluralize capitalized letters, numbers, or symbols though some editors prefer them.)

Apostrophes are not needed to pluralize regular words (“Hand me the portfolio’s” vs. “Hand me the portfolios“). When you’re wondering if you should include an apostrophe on a word like this, ask yourself if the word you’re adding the ‘s to owns the word after it.

For example, in the sentence “Teacher’s shape lives,” the teachers are not in possession of shape or lives. Therefore, the sentence should be written, “Teachers shape lives.” In the sentence, “Jill’s battery died,” the battery belongs to Jill and so an apostrophe to show possession should be used. Other examples include the following:

  • My brothers both work in public relations.
  • The kitten’s fur is soft.
  • McCauley’s marketing tips are useful.
  • James’s sister ate my candy. (“James’ sister” is also acceptable since the noun [James] ends in S)

When the subject in possession of something is plural, the apostrophe goes outside the S, as opposed to inside between the word and the S. For example, “three cats’ toys” indicates that three cats (more than one) are in possession of the toys. Other examples include the following:

  • “five designers’ applications”
  • “seven writers’ drafts”
  • “all the flowers’ petals”

Another tip: you can add ‘s to the end of compound phrases, “my mother-in-law’s recipe,” and to the end of the final noun in cases of joint possession, “Sam and Christy’s presentation.”

There’s only one exception to these rules: its and it’s. Because the possessive and contraction of the word “it” would both involve an apostrophe according to traditional rules, there’s a small caveat to the original rules. The possessive “it” does not have an apostrophe: “The dog chased its tail.” Meanwhile, the contraction “it is” does involve an apostrophe: “It’s time to start holiday advertising.”

The proper use of the apostrophe is one grammar rules where it seems like the exceptions are endless. We hope our explanation helps sort out the proper use of the apostrophe so all your writing and website content management can be grammatically correct!

For more marketing tips and answers to your marketing questions, make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

What is Klout Score, and How Can My Business Benefit From It?

What is Klout Score, and How Can My Business Benefit From It?While social media is still an evolving web of technologies, social scientists and engineers are already figuring out ways to measure it. We’ve told you about the importance of measuring your EdgeRank  on Facebook in order to make sure more people are seeing your posts. However, a marketing tool called your “Klout Score” helps to determine the strength of your overall web presence.

Using data from social networks in which you participate, Klout measures your True Reach, or the number of actual people who are utilizing the information you put out into cyberspace via Facebook, Twitter, and more. For example, when you post something interesting on a social network, your true reach score measures how many people “retweet” or share that information and/or respond to it.

Your Amplification Score measures how much of an impact you have on people using social networks (like Facebook) and the likelihood that these individuals will be dynamically engaged by your social media activity. It quantifies the probability that your friends, follower, connections, etc. will take action regarding your messages (likes, comments, @messages, etc.).

Network Score calculates the influence of the people in your “True Reach.” If other top social media users are engaged in your activity and taking action based on your tweets or posts, your Network Score will be higher. For example, celebrities often reply to and retweet each other’s Twitter posts, increasing the Network Score of both parties since so many fans generally follow famous people.

This measure of the number of people following you, how much you influence them, and how influential your followers all come together to form your Klout Score, a number between 1 and 100. A score of 100 is the most influential and has only been reached by one person—Justin Bieber. Klout Scoring claims to help users learn to leverage their influence and discover reputable sources of information on social networks.

For businesses, finding out your Klout Score and how to maximize it based on your social media marketing goals and client interests can help to amplify your online presence. You can also tailor what you post to be the most useful to your clients and help increase your number of followers.

Klout Score is calculated by a specific algorithm, but there are plenty of tips published as to how to increase yours. Here are some of McCauley Services’ Klout tips: Because Klout Score measures how many people are interacting with you, start a discussion so social media users will feel compelled to get involved. Also, you can engage with top influencers. This is sort of like the theory of popularity in high school, the more you hang out with the cool kids, the cooler you seem. The same goes for your Klout Score, the more you interact with higher scoring social media users, the higher your score.

While looking into your Klout Score is helpful, it’s important to realize that it’s just one piece of a larger marketing strategy. At McCauley Marketing Services, we help our clients formulate a comprehensive marketing plan involving social media, website design, print ads, and more. For more information, peruse our website and check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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