- By Jesse Linklater
First rule of the modern world: don’t mess with the internet.
Most of you will have probably heard the story of Jarrid Tansey, the pizza delivery driver from Westport, Massachusetts who was ridiculed in a YouTube video by some customers who thought it was OK to get him to drive back to their office so they could harass him over how little they tipped him. Why they thought posting the video online would embarrass him and not themselves is a mystery, but let’s not focus on their stupidity here.
Jarrid’s story became a viral sensation, and demonstrated the reach and power of the internet:
- the YouTube video meant to ridicule him turned him into a hero;
- his antagonists, F&R Auto Sales, who actually posted the original video, became the villains;
- F&R’s reviews went through the roof, in a bad way; and,
- a gofundme.com campaign raised more than $30,000 in less than a week to cover the loss of a $7 tip.
You gotta love the internet.
I’ll let the rest of the internet wax on about virality and the redemptive capabilities of the internet. For me, this is a wonderfully succinct case study on local search and why you need to be on top of your review management.
Here’s a few of the local search the lessons we can learn:
1) Reviews matter
You need a solid review management strategy to prepare for negative reviews. The most damaging reviews are the ones you don’t know exist. Retailers need to monitor their reviews and respond to negative reviews with an appropriate response. A CAP (Care, Action, Perspective) response is the best way to go, and gives you a chance to turn a negative review into a customer wining experience. Our infographic and white paper can teach you all you need to know.
Now, would a great review management strategy have saved F&R Auto Sales? No chance. Their mistakes were monumental, arrogant and showed a level of shortsightedness that was beyond help. It doesn’t seem like they were the forward-thinking type of company that would have had a review management strategy in the first place. Or any strategies really.
2) Fake reviews are a real problem
No matter how bad F&R Auto Sales customer service, prices or automobiles are, it’s unlikely they would generate nothing but 1-star reviews. It’s also unlikely they would go from a handful of reviews in the previous year, to over 3,500 reviews in a single week. But that’s what happened. The only conclusion is that the overwhelming majority of these new reviews are fake.
The F&R pages on both Google+ and Yelp have seen unprecedented traffic since the video went viral, and most everyone is leaving the lowest possible review. It’s clear from both the numbers, and a quick scan of the actual reviews that hardly any of these people have ever interacted with F&R in person. Their only exposure with the company is through the viral video or the online news stories it kicked off.
Not that we are on F&R’s side here (we’re absolutely not!), but fake reviews are a problem that good companies need help overcoming. Most review sites will remove fake reviews with evidence that the review is fraudulent or likely to be fraudulent. It’s as much in the interest of the review site as it is in the reviewee’s to eliminate as many fake reviews as possible to build trust with the community.
3) Video is a game changer
Without video this story never takes off. With video it takes over the internet.
You want to connect with your customers online? Include video in your campaigns and optimize your local pages with video content that speaks to your potential customers.
We advise our clients to upload videos to their locations Google+ pages. It’s a simple way to connect with your customers. Don’t sleep on video.
Everyone gets the occasional bad review, but hopefully your business never achieves the infamous attention F&R Auto Sales is getting now. If your negative reviews spike, or you run into viral trouble, follow our tips, or get help from a company like ours and your online rep will be fine.