You need to know how to make your brand’s presence on platforms like Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, and Trip Advisor not only fertile ground for customers to make purchasing decisions – but also able to fend off negative comments/reviews before they can chew away at your reputation.

The old adage is “Reputations are built by inches, and destroyed by miles.”

Less like a long straightforward journey, and more like the care and maintenance of a garden, developing an effective online Reputation Management strategy means focusing your approach on several distinctly different platforms and tailoring your approach to each accordingly.

In the digital age, perhaps that adage needs an update:

“Your online reputation grows strong when you care for it, and dies if you don’t.”

Let’s get into the real data. Here are the “Big Four” channels that Amusement and Attractions businesses need to optimize and monitor, if they want to reap the benefits of a sterling online reputation:

#1 Google My Business

The Yellow Pages are taking up space in landfills now, and consumer data shows that online local searches lead to action , with 34% of consumers who sought local information on their computer or tablet and 50% who used their smartphones making their way to a location relevant to their search terms within a day.

Nearly 68% of all online searches take place on Google. This reality, combined with the above statistic, should illustrate how beneficial claiming and verifying your Amusement location for Google Maps Business will be for your online and foot traffic.

It is step #1 for letting customers know you exist online.

Once your location has a Google Maps Business Listing, its visibility is boosted in Google’s Local Search, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic search rankings in general.

Google Maps Business Listing

Once you’ve verified your business and entered its information, congratulations, you have a Google Maps Business Listing! But if we can return to our garden metaphor for a second, you’ve just planted the seeds. This is not a “set it and forget it” operation

What many Amusement and Attraction owners don’t realize once they have a Google Maps Business Listing is that anyone with a keyboard can suggest a change or edit YOUR business listing! Much like a Wikipedia page (but with even less oversight), your Google Maps Business Listing information can be changed by searchers, customers, and yes – even your competitors.

This is where the “Management” part of “Reputation Management” comes in: you need to have staff members and processes making sure that updates made to your Google Maps Business Listing are periodically reviewed for accuracy to fend off sabotage by erroneous user-generated information.

Get your Google Maps Business Listing here.

#2 Facebook

Before you skip ahead because you already have a Facebook page for your business, slow down. This section is specifically about Reputation Management as it relates to Facebook, an element of Social Media Strategy many Amusement clients overlook.

Facebook isn’t just a channel for broadcasting your latest deals or linking to your next piece of content. In fact, in a 2016 survey , it was found that 47% of consumers used Facebook to review local businesses. Compare that to Google’s 25% and Yelp’s 17%, and a picture of just how important managing your reputation on Facebook is starts to come into vivid focus.

Facebook Ratings and Reviews

When any Facebook user makes and post about your business on Facebook, they receive a prompt from Facebook asking them if they recommend your location. This simple YES or NO can then be expounded upon if your guest decides to provide additional feedback. Facebook then takes these tagged “recommendations” (or anti-recommendations) and features them directly on the front page of your business’ timeline.

These crowd-sourced recommendations means that you are wearing what Facebook users say about your business right on your face.  So when it comes to management, responding to these comments is critical to making the right first impression.

Whether it’s posted on your wall or a comment in response to one of your posts, effective Facebook Reputation Management means responding to EVERY user who engages directly with your account. Being responsive sends a clear message to potential guests that you care – be it hopping in to embellish a positive review or compliment for your location, or stepping in to apologize for and resolve a negative experience. You cannot control what users post, or if these posts display – so your responses are the most active step you can take to protecting your reputation on Facebook.

Facebook is a platform with billions of users and features. If you’re just using it as a billboard, your reputation may be in jeopardy. Reputation Management requires frequent attention, and having strong communicators on staff capable of monitoring this channel and responding to issues as they arise is integral to making Facebook work for Amusement businesses.

#3 Yelp

Your location’s ranking on Yelp, which determines how prominently your account is presented to users of the site, is determined by cumulative scores on five key factors:

  1. Number of reviews (positive and negative) received
  2. Average (positive) rating from reviews
  3. Credibility of Yelp users reviewing your location
  4. Relevance of keywords used in reviews by users
  5. Number of check-ins on the app by guests during a visit

Yelp Location Reviews

In order for an Amusement business to be Yelp-optimized, you must have staff monitoring and responding to reviews and comments, just like Facebook.  But, there are other Yelp specific strategies for boosting your presence on the platform.

When it comes to boosting the number of reviews on your Yelp page, it should be noted that Yelp discourages (and penalizes) companies that openly ask for reviews – but there are strategies to gently encourage Yelp engagement.  Add Yelp badge links to your website that link directly to your Yelp account, and display Yelp logos at your physical locations as reminders to guests who are enjoying your attractions that they can “check in” and let the world know.

Keywords are important. You need to complete your Yelp account’s “business information” fields in as much detail and with as much keyword-heavy copy as possible. This will not only amplify your visibility on Yelp, but may be a gentle nudge to your reviewers that subtly says “hey, here are some words you can use to talk about our business.”

#4 TripAdvisor

For Amusement businesses, vacationers and tourists are an important customer demographic, and TripAdvisor is the largest travel site in the world. Making sure your listing on TripAdvisor is optimized could be the deciding factor for potential customers unfamiliar with your area enjoying your attractions, or whether they decide to visit your competitors instead.

Trip Advisor Listing and Reviews

As with all of these platforms, some best practices are the same: filling in accurate/detailed/keyword-heavy information, responding to all reviews/comments, delegating responsibility to staff to monitor your profile’s engagement. But let’s talk some TripAdvisor specifics:

Firstly, you may already be on TripAdvisor, but before you register as an owner and update the information yourself, your account and information is all traveler-generated. If a listing doesn’t already exist for your business, you’ll be able to fill all information out as needed – but if travelers have already created one, you’ll want to double-check all of their information “owner-generated” copy with lots of keywords and accurate details. Don’t just assume Trip Advisor nailed it on the first shot.

Fortunately, unlike the other platforms above, TripAdvisor prioritizes registered owner-generated information above traveler-generated information (feel free to breathe a sigh of relief here).

TripAdvisor also enables you to upload photos to your listing, and in a study of user engagement on the site, it was found that businesses with 30 or more photos have 41% traveler engagement than those with 10 or fewer.

This means that on TripAdvisor, there is practically no such thing as too many photos. Showcase smiling satisfied guests, every attraction, appetizing snacks – make a diverse and well-rounded visual impression of exactly what makes your location special.

Finally, an often-overlooked feature of TripAdvisor is their partnership with external companies to allow travelers to make bookings right on your listing page.  If your TripAdvisor listing is optimized to make a positive impression, it may be in your best interest to have a “Book Now” button ready for eager travelers to make their decision without getting sidetracked by links to new sites.

For Amusement and Attraction businesses, supporting a stellar reputation may not be as simple as it was in the past – but by optimizing these four platforms and creating some best practices for monitoring them with your staff, you can turn them from hostile territory into fertile ground for profit potential.

If you found this information helpful, will be adding more in-depth and Amusement-focused Digital Marketing blogs like it on our feed in the weeks gearing up to IAAPA. Make sure you receive email reminders to click here to subscribe to our newsletter.