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Craft the 'write' online review
If you have ever searched the Internet to find the perfect restaurant or hotel, you are not alone.
Nearly 90 percent of Americans search online to find out what others are saying before they decide to fork out their hard-earned cash, but only 6 percent of us actually take the time to write an online review. Writing a review can be tedious, but well-written reviews can make a huge difference in your local community and its economy. Often, out-of-town visitors look to those online reviews to determine where to dine and shop while they are in the area.
Online review sites like Trip Advisor, Google+, Yellow Pages, Urban Spoon, Four Square and Yelp, allow users to review everything from restaurants and hotels to local dry cleaning services. Had I searched for online reviews before I took my wedding dress to the dry cleaners, I might have been better prepared for the one-star business to lose my wedding dress. As it was, I ended up in quite the predicament. You might be surprised by how your local favorites stack up in their online reviews.
The first step in writing an online review is deciding which online review site you will use. Pick the review site you use the most often for other’s opinions. Chances are, like-minded people will also use the site and find your review helpful. Next, think through your experiences with the business, both good and bad. Keep the information factual, honest and useful. People look to online reviews more so than word-of-mouth reviews these days, but they ask themselves the same question: How does the information impact me?
For example, on a recent visit to a hotel, I had the unique privilege of being checked into the same room as a complete stranger. A useful review might read, “On such and such a day I checked into hotel x and -- much to my surprise -- found a complete stranger already in the room. When I returned to the front desk, the manager apologized profusely and quickly got me into another room. He even escorted me to the new room to make sure it was empty and up-to-par before I set foot in the room.”
A bad review might read, “I checked into hotel x, and to my utter horror there was a deranged murderer in my room. I barely escaped with my life.”
Many people also take to Twitter to voice their opinions, but remember to keep the tweet in perspective and factual. Give yourself some time to cool down before going on a 140-character rant.
Not only is that bad review not helpful, it could also potentially land the reviewer in legal trouble. Some businesses can sue you for defamation if your review is not based in fact. In the bad review, the situation is overly dramatized and lacks factual information. Be careful of businesses that bar you from posting online reviews of their services. Those with restrictions are few, but read the fine print when signing contracts or agreements.
Other tips for writing good online reviews include keeping your comments brief and to the point. Focus on your experience. Avoid mentioning your favorite manager or waitress by name. Put yourself in the position of the business. Did you have to wait a really long time to eat because the service was bad or because there were an additional 100,000 people in town for a ball game? Also, waiting a day or two to cool down after a bad experience can help you gain some perspective and avoid being overly harsh.
In my case, for example, the dry cleaners found my wedding dress. It was in the back. They didn’t have any explanation or appreciate the emotional stress they caused, but the fact that they still had it helped a great deal.
Writing online reviews can be a great way to show your support of local businesses and invite others to be a part of your community.