Do know what people are saying about you?  Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” And he’s right. You could spend all your time and money creating a killer logo and tagline, but it’s all for nothing if your reputation leaves a lot to be desired.

You can find out exactly what people think by cruising your social networks, review sites, and even your own website. This is called “social listening,” and it’s an important part of crafting and controlling your brand story. In other words, you’re eavesdropping on what everyone’s saying while you’re out of the room, which gives you a more accurate picture of your brand as the rest of the world sees it.

Now, eavesdropping is generally considered a little creepy, so you have to go about gathering your social proof in some pretty crafty ways. Here are some tips to help you share the best of the best from your brand advocates without looking like a stalker.

1. Be Transparent

Most of your customers are happy to share their thoughts about your products, services, and brand as a whole, as long as you’re honest about why you want the feedback. If you say you’ll record a phone call for training purposes but then release quotes of from your customer gushing about your company, that’s not transparent. If you say your surveys are anonymous but then reach out for clarification from a particular respondent, that’s not transparent.

If, however, you ask for reviews that you can share on your website or social media accounts, your buyers know up front that their feedback will be shared. Let them know where you’re gathering social proof, why you’re collecting feedback, and where they could expect to see their words at a later date. That’s as transparent as you can get.

2. Give Options

Not everyone is on social media, so you can expect to reach all your customers through Twitter and Facebook. Does that mean they won’t want to share their experiences with others? Of course not! You can give everyone the chance to participate by offering several different options. Local review sites are perfect for keeping the social-media-shy customers of the world involved without making them open new accounts just to help you out.

One great way to collect reviews and feedback is to offer space on your website. Whether you share carefully curated testimonials from select customers or open up the reviews to anyone and everyone, a review space will help you in ways you simply can’t imagine.

3. Be Gracious

Whatever feedback you receive, from whatever source, be gracious. If you target negative reviewers or become argumentative in public or even private spaces, you’ll develop a reputation for bad behavior. Remember this: bad reviews aren’t necessarily bad for business. First of all, someone obviously made a purchase, or they wouldn’t have feedback to give. Second, those bad reviews actually make your good reviews more credible. How likely is a company to make all of the customers happy all of the time? Those with glowing reviews and zero detractors look a little fishy.

You don’t necessarily have to respond to all feedback, whether good or bad, but you do want to show your support for those who spoke up in the negative. An apology does go a long way toward creating goodwill with both the angry customer and the buying public.

With these tips in mind, you can start to gather social proof that will support your brand story without looking like a serious creep. As always, we’re here to help at any step in your journey, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

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