By Jeff Beals
“Remarkable staff, beautiful hotel and very good management! Thank you for a wonderful experience and for being so accommodating of us. We loved it and will be back.”
That’s an excerpt from an online review a family member of mine wrote about his stay last year at a Geneva, Switzerland resort.
I was thinking about that family member recently and how much he reminded me of this other guy I know, a good friend. I decided to Google both of them.
When I Googled the family member, I noticed he had written the review above plus a couple others.
Among my friend’s search returns were some reviews of books and other products he had purchased on Amazon.com.
Upon deeper examination, I discovered both men had written several reviews on various websites, using their real names, and another identifying factor, usually their home town. These guys are incredibly successful, and have many impressive things going on in their lives, yet these online reviews appeared near the top of their Google research results.
The fact that reviews show prominently on Internet searches is proof that writing reviews can be a powerful marketing force for individuals trying to build personal brands and the companies for which they work. Now is a great time to think about the products, services and people you respect and start contemplating what you can say about them online.
Review writing is worthwhile, because I guarantee your friends, colleagues, potential clients and prospective employers are Googling you on a regular basis. That’s what we do these days – when we are thinking about doing business with a person or getting involved with a company, we conduct a quick search.
If someone Googles you and little or nothing shows up, they are going to be unimpressed. It might not be fair, or even accurate, but if the Google returns on your name are meager, the person searching will assume you don’t have much going on. You can’t afford that.
Being widely represented on the Internet is crucial, and online reviews are a great way to get your name and your company’s name out in the marketplace. The key is to make sure the reviews work for you instead of against you.
The first step is to use your real name and an identifying factor. Your reviews are useless if you use a pseudonym. For the identifying factor, most reviewers use their city of residence or what they do for a living, i.e. “architect,” “pharmaceutical sales” or “insurance industry.” Only use your company name if you are comfortable doing so, keeping in mind that some large companies frown on employees publicly using the company name without permission from the public relations department. As long as the website doesn’t have a policy against it, you might want to include your website URL or email address after your name.
When writing your name, go by the name everyone calls you. For instance, if everyone knows you as “Jeff,” don’t sign your name as “Jeffrey.”
In the vast majority of the cases, you should write positive comments. Negative reviews generally hurt your brand, making you come across as an unpleasant, unhappy person. When you feel you must write a scathing review, that’s when you pull out the pseudonym.
Write reviews about products, services and companies that relate to your expertise. For example, there’s power in writing an Amazon review about a new leadership book if you are a senior executive.
Make sure your writing uses real grammar and avoids too much slang or vernacular language. While you don’t need to write like a British poet, professional-sounding language is a must.
As far as length is concerned, you need to put some “meat” into it without turning it into a novel. One sentence is way too short, but if you write more than two standard-sized paragraphs it is unlikely many people will read your entire text.
Include a short reference as to who you are professionally or what your company does in your review. That gives you credibility and encourages potential clients to learn more about you, but limit this part to just one sentence, so you don’t come across as a conceited braggart.
Put some thought into the review and make it interesting. Some websites allow readers of reviews to “star” them or mark how helpful they are. The more “helpful” your review is, the more likely it will show up first.
But don’t stop with just the review. Once it is approved and posted, send it to all your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and GooglePlus followers. This will expand the circle of people who could potentially see it and “like” it, “agree” with it or “star” it.
Once you become adept at writing reviews, you could also comment on blog articles. Follow blogs that relate to your area of expertise and/or your company’s industry. The rules of review writing apply to blog comments.
Indeed writing reviews and responding to blog articles are powerful ways for you and your company to stand out in this crazy, cluttered marketplace in which we all work, but you have to be disciplined and committed. One review or one blog comment really won’t do much for you. In addition to writing the right stuff in the right way, you need to be a regular contributor. The frequency of your writing is almost as important as the quality.
You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone else who might benefit from it.
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.