Taking full advantage of customer testimonials and reviews is an effective way for a business to build trust in their brand. With surveys suggesting as many as 88 percent of people have used reviews to determine the quality of a business, the power of customer opinion cannot be overstated.
Before we dive into the power of testimonials and how to source and promote them with social media, I want to clarify that I’ve used the word “testimonial” to mean any customer review, assessment, comment, endorsement, or interview relating to a business or its products or services.
What makes a good testimonial?
Testimonials occupy a unique space in the world of online marketing in that they aren’t self-promotional. By this I mean that it’s not you that’s doing the promoting, but rather your customer or client. The introduction of a third party has the power to remove any bias associated with traditional ‘marketing speak’ and replace it with something far more genuine—and thus influential.
In most instances businesses have little say over the content of a testimonial, beyond setting out specific questions in the hope of eliciting favorable responses. The exception to this rule is with video testimonials, where ideally you will have vetted your interviewee and can exercise a much greater degree of control.
A good testimonial will:
- Support or backup the claims you have made in your marketing
- Come from a genuine customer who your target market can identify with
- Come across as genuine and not overly gushy or forced
- Acknowledge how your product or service beats the competition
- Never make spurious or inaccurate claims about your product or service
- Be written or spoken clearly and coherently
- Avoid going into too much technical detail
- Focus on the benefits to the user or customer
With impromptu customer commentary and reviews, it’s unlikely you’ll have any control over what your customers say and how they say it, but you can certainly cherry pick the ones you’d like to promote on social media.
Different types of testimonials
Let’s take a closer look at a few types of testimonials and how best to promote them on social.
For many customers, a written testimonial will be the most convenient format in which to express praise for your company. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a flood of positive testimonials without asking your customers first. One way to collect written testimonials is to send out an email to every customer, requesting a short two- or three-sentence testimonial.
You could make it even easier by including a feedback form on your website with questions and rating options so that your customers can rate various aspects of your product or service. The easier you can make it for people to leave you written testimonials the better.
Video testimonials are powerful. By putting a real person in front of a camera you have the opportunity to create a far stronger impression by presenting a voice that is genuine and unscripted. Of course, video testimonials cost money to make and it’s inevitably a harder sell to get a client or customer to spend an entire morning or afternoon sitting down in front of a camera and talking about your company. You could encourage your customers to send in their own videos but you lose any sense of editorial control or direction this way.
Video testimonials should be promoted across a range of social media platforms—YouTube and Facebook work the best. If your testimonial video is quite long, consider creating a series of excerpts that you can post independently.
There are some important dos and don’ts when producing video testimonials, such as structuring it like an interview but avoiding the temptation to script your interviewee’s answers. Scripted answers can come across as rehearsed, which can destroy the credibility of the speaker and your brand. It is better to create a sort of memory aid with areas to cover that you can show your interviewee beforehand.
Customer reviews tend to be in written format and a lot shorter in length. They are usually written independently by customers without any involvement from the company in question. They also tend to carry a star rating system and can be negative as well as positive. Dealing with negative reviews is an important facet of online reputation management but beyond the remit of this article. For now, let’s focus on positive reviews.
Reviews are often written for sites that are designed to help other people make purchasing decisions, such as Yahoo Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Trustpilot. One of the most important and influential review sites is Google My Business, for the simple reason that your reviews will show up in the search engine’s results pages, along with contact details taken from your Google Plus business page.
Getting five-star reviews on Google My Business can do wonders for your SEO and can even see your business end up on Google’s local pack. Social media is the perfect forum for encouraging people to write reviews on your Google My Business page, as well as showcasing some of the excellent reviews you already have. Just be sure not to prod or bribe your customers into leaving positive reviews as this is a breach of Google’s guidelines (and just about every other review site out there).
Social media commentary
Social media commentary can be very influential and is often among the easiest type of testimonial to come by. The trick to engaging with this type of review is to be gracious and thank your customers for their words. As always, take care not to come off as self-promotional. The more authentic you come across on social media, the more likely you are to encourage genuine responses to your products and services.
As well as organic marketing, you could also take advantage of social media ad platforms that allow you to target very specific groups of users. These can help you build a following that is more likely to be interested in your company, and as a result, more likely to engage. And the more meaningful conversations you have going on, the more feeds your company will pop up in, drawing more attention to your brand.
Of course the more attention you attract the more likely you are to receive negative commentary As long as you deal with these in a professional manner, the good stuff will far outweigh the bad stuff.
Tips for sourcing and collecting testimonials
I want to leave you with some strategies for sourcing reviews and testimonials as well as tips for getting them seen on social media and beyond.
- Ask your customers for testimonials but never offer reward or compensation for them. Doing so will undermine their authenticity and erode any trust you have built in your brand.
- Include feedback forms on your website to make it easier for people to leave reviews and comments.
- Run a social media campaign to encourage people to send in video reviews of your product or create their own content based on a theme or idea.
- Link to your Google My Business review form to make it as easy for your customers as possible to leave you positive reviews.
- Ask your best clients and customers if they’d be interested in filming a video testimonial.
- Add any positive review or testimonial you have to your social media pages. Many people do this on LinkedIn but you can also add testimonials to your Facebook page on a separate tab, using FBML, or one of a ton of custom tab apps.
- Make sure all your video reviews are on your YouTube channel and embedded or hosted on your website.
- Keep it fresh by periodically sourcing and uploading new testimonials to your website and social media feeds.
- In highly competitive sectors like insurance, consider using AdWords seller ratings to make your ads stand out from the competition.
- Reach out to social media influencers to see if they have used your product, and if so, if they are willing to write or record a short testimonial.
- Try adding quotes from a couple of your best testimonials to your email marketing campaign to improve your click-through rate (CTR).
- Repurpose the best testimonials you have for use on your offline marketing materials such as brochures, print ads, and promotional films.
But remember: you must resist the temptation to reward or compensate customers for providing positive testimonials or reviews. The slightest evidence that an endorsement was not 100 percent unbiased can seriously undermine your efforts and quickly turn into a PR disaster.