"This award-winning barrel-aged stout was totally disgusting. I don't like dark beers. One star."
- Random Person on Untappd
Yeah. I get it. People can be lame, but does that justify us disengaging with or even boycotting services like Untappd? Whether we like it or not, review services are here to stay and there is no choice but to embrace them, accept their faults, and use them to our advantage.
Breweries with exponential growth like Great Notion Brewing have quadrupled their barrel output in less than two years from roughly 200 barrels per quarter to over 800 while fully embracing and encouraging the use of Untappd. To give perspective, Heavy Craft ran an analysis on over 40 Portland, Oregon breweries in 2018 and found that Great Notion not only had the most Untappd monthly check-ins, the rate of check-ins was 103 for every barrel sold compared to the average of 9 check-ins per barrel. To reiterate, that's over 11 times more than the average in the sample. The nearest competitor was Cascade Brewing with a rate of 64 check-ins per barrel.
Great Notion has clearly used Untappd as a tool for positive growth, but they aren't the only ones taking reviews seriously. Most of your customers will trust reviews more than personal recommendations and spend 31% more on companies with excellent reviews. Consumer reviews are trusted nearly 12 times more than any descriptions provided by your company for your products. Reviews are critically important for the success of your business.
Not all bad reviews are bad. You don't need to be perfect. In fact, customers are unlikely to trust your business if you don't have negative reviews. 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores. A study from Northwestern University also shows that purchases actually drop off when the average review is more than 4.5.
It is key to respond to negative reviews positively. If a brewery has an abundance of shining 5 star reviews and they recieve a 1 star like the example above, onlookers naturally understand the negative review is an outlier but the business's response is critical nonetheless. It is an opportunity to reconcile a negative experience and show the world they genuinely care about their customers and their product.
Taste is highly subjective and the reviews will reflect this. Believe it or not, the 'idiot' that gave that beer a one star review because they didn't like the style actually gave the brewery a shot. They wanted to try the product. It's okay that they don't like a particular style, but I'm sure the brewery makes a style they do like. This is a great opportunity to address a negative experience, promote other products, and nurture brand advocacy.
Your business depends on it. Company responses are available to the public and crawled by search engines fueled by machine learning. Google has not only confirmed that responding to reviews helps your local SEO, they have made a core algorithm update to rank pages by business trustworthiness. Managing your business's reputation online is pivotal to getting ranked in search engine results and maintaining a positive public perception.
Every industry has their own versions of Untappd, BeerAdvocate, or RateBeer. The travel industry has TripAdvisor, Technology companies have G2 Crowd, and all local businesses are very familiar with Yelp. The review services are not going away anytime soon. Probably never.
It's time to use these tools to our advantage.