Frost Media Solutions

review forum optimization specialists

review forum optimization

Should Companies Incentivize Online Business Reviews?

Consumers question businesses’ reputations every day of the year. However, the holiday season brings a rising interest in learning about other shoppers’ experiences. People invest a lot of time, energy and money into buying the perfect present for Christmas, Hanukkah and other gift-giving holidays. Because shoppers buy presents for family members, friends and coworkers, their research period may be lengthened compared to personal shopping. After all, consumers are shopping for other people, visiting their favorite stores for their favorite things. Holiday shoppers are especially interested in customer service, return policies, and overall business reputations. Therefore, review forums will be a first place to start.

soliciting and rewarding online business reviews

Experiences shared on Yelp, Google Places and forums can directly influence purchasing behavior. But what is a company’s role in collecting online business reviews? Of course businesses want their trusted, loyal consumers writing reviews about their positive experiences. However, it’s usually the annoyed shoppers that retreat to review forms with harsh words and low stars. To boost online business reviews, what if you gave shoppers an incentive to write reviews? Consider both scenarios.


Strategy 1: Rewarding Customer Reviews

Some businesses offer their customers a coupon, like 5-10% off their next purchase, for a review. While businesses don’t specify that it has to be positive, if a customer has to show their review to management for a discount, it will more likely be a high review. How many people would return to a store they disliked, show a store employee their low review, and then redeem the coupon to buy something? It’s an unlikely case, so it may be worth exploring in order to gain more reviews. While Yelp has condemned soliciting reviews, they obviously have their own business motives. Consider the pros and cons for your business. Maybe test rewarding online customer reviews for a short period of time before making it an longterm marketing effort.

Strategy 2: Not Rewarding Customer Reviews

Many managers choose not to solicit online business reviews. By relying on organic reviews, businesses can honor their reviews for honest, thoughtful reviews. The review page will be populated with thorough input, rather than hastily written reviews from people looking for a deal. This option also avoids any conversations about what’s considered a review. For example, do people that write “nice employees, clean place” earn the same discount as reviewers with helpful input and verbose experience descriptions? Choosing not to reward reviews may be low maintenance, but would an aggressive marketing push be more helpful?


Ultimately, it’s a decision unique to each business. Incentivizing online business reviews depends on each company’s marketing strategy and reputation management standing. But one thing is sure, despite the stress around the holiday season, make sure everyone at your business is on their best behavior. You never know when a Yelp or Google review addict is around the corner!


Happy Holidays from Frost Media Solutions! 



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Controlling Online Reviews

Online conversations have a direct impact on consumers intent to purchase, and controlling online reviews is a vital step in assuring a company’s ‘best foot’ is put forward, however companies often ignore these research avenues for three main reasons;

  1. They are difficult to identify

  2. User generated content in large quantities

  3. Controlled by third parties, thus difficult to reply to

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With 82% of consumers finding reviews extremely valuable, consulting reviews prior to purchasing is a key part of any consumer research process – and may be the difference between them choosing one product, or a major competitor product.

Review forum optimization (RFO) is used by companies, large and small to ensure positive reviews are increased, negative messages are suppressed and to ensure consumer experience and flow of content is aligned with what consumers are expecting


To get a head start on competitors, download our quick checklist!


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Airbnb Reviews vs Hostel Reviews: What to look for and what to expect!

Airbnb is the new way of discovering new places at an affordable price. But why should you choose to join the Airbnb community instead of going to a Hostel? We wrote down some important things to keep in mind while looking at the reviews of both communities, to experience your stay to the fullest.

First of all, what’s the difference between Airbnb and a hostel? Airbnb is a community where owners of a house, apartment or studio offer travelers a place to sleep. That can vary from an entire apartment to a little room. In most cases, you’ll become someone’s roommate for a short period. The true charm of Airbnb is that locals can guide you around the city and give you some local insight.

Hostels, on the other hand are made for travellers, typically backpackers. They offer you a bed, communal areas where you can socialize with other travellers and in some instances a place to eat too. For most people, Hostels offer the opportunity to socialize with other like minded travellers, especially people who are travelling alone on a very strict budget.

Airbnb NYC provides some insight into how the new style of accommodation is helping local businesses, as well as tourists.

  • in the past year, Airbnb has generated $105 million in economic activity

  • 82% of Airbnb properties are located outside of Manhattan

  • A visitor spends $740 on average in the neighborhood where they stay

Airbnb: Reviews and what to look for

Although Airbnb is a wonderful concept, there are several things you should look at when scrolling through the review section while you’re on the search for that perfect place. The most important one is the way the host accommodates you on your arrival. These aren’t typical hotels so there isn’t a front desk with a fully fledged check-in system. If you read in the comments that the travelers didn’t even see their host, then you won’t be having the real Airbnb experience.  You should also keep an eye out for comments related to the cleanliness of the space. While you shouldn’t expect hotel level perfection, you are paying for it – and you want it to be clean!

Airbnb focusses more on the rational points – Communication, cleanliness and value for your money are key. The ‘unmeasurable’ aspects (such as atmosphere) will be hidden amongst the reviews.

Another important feature of Airbnb is the response rate. You’re not dealing with a brand, you’re dealing with a person – so you want to make sure they’re responsive. If you asked the person a question through the Airbnb app or website, that person has 24 hours to answer. If he or she doesn’t, their response rate will drop.

Reviews stay within Airbnb – as it is someone’s home after all. The various verification steps needed to create an account help provide comfort that all reviews are real people with real opinions.

Hostels: Reviews and what to look for

Most hostels are being reviewed on external websites such as Tripadvisor or

When we look at the rating of Tripadvisor, there is a general rating system just to get an overall opinion about a hostel. On the right there is a rating summary, with almost the same topics as Airbnb. The only difference is that Tripadvisor wants you to know what your thoughts are about the sleep quality and the rooms. The other useful piece of information – is being able to narrow down reviews to suit your travel type e.g. family vs. solo. By viewing reviews only relevant to your travel type you’re getting a more tailored understanding of the hostel to your needs.

We’ve broken down the differences in the table below – so that you can make up your own mind on the hostel vs. Airbnb debate!

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Influence of Online Reviews

Pinterest, Instagram, travel bloggers and more have helped fuel societies obsession with Wanderlust – a strong desire for, or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

However, just because we’re all pinning our dream destinations – doesn’t mean we’re doing away with researching the top restaurants to put on Swarm, the most picturesque buildings to Instagram or the hotel with the best view to incite jealousy in our (over) 500 Facebook friends.

In fact, fewer than 10% of leisure travelers use a travel agent now (Phocuswright), putting their faith in review forums instead. At any given moment, it is estimated that 5,000 commercial airplanes are in the skies over the United States (Daily Mail) – that’s a lot of people who have done a lot of research to determine who to fly with, where to fly and where to tell the cab driver to go once they reach their destination.

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For Travel, Tourism and Hospitality providers ensuring review forums speak favorably of them is paramount to their success;

  • 40% of personal travelers share their experiences through social networking

  • 45% of personal travelers make travel plans based on reviews and the experiences of others

  • 99% of consumers are willing to pay up to 99% MORE for a 5-star rated product than a 4-star rated product

If you have any questions about optimizing your review forum presence, or how to improve your review forum ratings contact us today!

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San Francisco Restaurant takes on Yelp

A typical Yelp promotion involves high ratings in exchange for a discount, but David Cerretini, owner of Botto Bistro, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco is using a different strategy – vying for the worst yelp rating in the Bay Area. Cerretini is offering a 25% discount in exchange for customers 1 star reviews.

After being called 20 times a week by Yelp, Cerretini was persuaded to advertise. Which he did, to the tune of $270 for 6 months. When he stopped advertising, Cerretini noticed a sharp increase in negative reviews, and even noted that one of his best reviews vanished. From this, Cerritini hatched what he believes is “the best business I (he’s) made in years”.

Next to a sassy sign listing the cost for varying extra marinara sizes, ranging from ‘a little bit’ to ‘enough to smell’, Botto Bistro lists it’s various offenses according to Yelp users, ending with their 25% discount for hating them on Yelp. The result? A huge amount of press and some hilarious Yelp reviews!

Story via AdWeek, Photos via Yelp

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[INFOGRAPHIC] How reviews impact consumer decisions

We know the impact negative (and positive) reviews can have on your business. As the act of reviewing increases, more people turn to reviews for valuable information before purchasing and the impact becomes greater and requires even more attention from hotel managers, executives and the like. Review Forum Optimization (RFO) can help both minimize the impact of negative reviews and maximize the positive ones!

The infographic below from Hubshout demonstrates just how important reviews are to potential customers, and how this importance is growing with each day.

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Vacation rentals need review forum optimization too!

Review Forum Optimization (RFO) isn’t just for run of the mill, everyday hotels. Review forum ratings impact holiday favorites of all sizes. This infographic, from We Need a Vacation, shows how reviews impact vacation rentals.

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Five Best Practices for Monitoring Online Reviews

There’s a lot wrong with the muddled world of online reviews. They can make or break a business, but when it comes to mitigating the sting of negative reviews — or of not being reviewed at all — business owners often feel helpless. And as a result, many of them turn to the dark side. Owners manipulate the system by either paying people to write fake positive reviews, or paying reputation management firms to place fraudulent reviews on popular review sites like Yelp, Insider Pages, Google and CitySearch.

While fake reviews may not be too disastrous for customers lured to try a new restaurant, coffee shop or even hair salon, what about a doctor? Luckily, our justice system is starting to catch up with the culprits.



Still, the question remains: What’s a badly-reviewed — or not-yet reviewed — business owner to do? Most of the review sites out there don’t make it easy. Here are five best practices to keep in mind that can profoundly (and legally) make your brand shine in the unpredictable realm of online reviews:

1. Respond: Don’t just cross your fingers and hope for positive reviews. Get in there and talk to your customers. And talk to them like a friend, not a salesperson. It’s not always intuitive, but there is a way to respond to reviews on every major review site out there.

2. Embrace the negative review: Negative feedback is a great opportunity to show other potential customers reading the review that your brand values their experience. Take a deep breath, thank the angry reviewer for their feedback, apologize, and provide a follow-up option when necessary.

3. Be nice and don’t get personal: There are real people behind each review (most of the time) and if you’re nice to them, they’ll reward you. Reply in a way that addresses the overall experience, and remember: it’s not about you.

4. Keep it short and sweet: Users are looking for useful and genuine information about your business and are easily overwhelmed by a long response. Keep your responses succinct.

5. Encourage feedback: 70 percent of people consult reviews before making a purchase and they’re 63 percent more likely to purchase a product from a site if it has product ratings. If you want your business to thrive, you need online reviews. But how you encourage those reviews makes all the difference. Don’t be aggressive. Encourage engagement instead by posting Yelp check-in offers, including links to review sites, or finding other creative ways to incentivize your customers to leave a review.


Treating your customers like the humans that they are online will build trust, boost sales, and save you hundreds of thousands in legal fees. Take the reins the right way.

This post was originally published on Location3 Media’s blog.

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Yelp Update Now Allows Mobile Reviews

Today, Yelp updated their mobile app to allow iPhone users to post full reviews straight from their iPhone. Currently only available on iOS, the update will be available on Android in the near future.

Reviewers will be able to post full-length reviews or leave “quick tips” and star ratings, however if the full-length review is too short it will be automatically posted as a quick tip.  Yelp have expressed that they preferred the higher quality more in depth reviews users post from their desktop, however mobile is an important focus for Yelp. And you can see why;

  • 59% of yelp searches are carried out on mobile devices

  • 40% of local ads are shown on mobile devices

  • The app was used 10.4 million unique times last quarter.

While the added functionality will increase the number of reviews as the convenience factor increases, they are likely to be shorter as people post on the go and will undoubtedly be less helpful. There is, of course the added problem that the number of negative reviews will likely increase as enraged customers are given an outlet for immediate venting.

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