If you’ve tried to reply to or leave a Google My Business review recently, you may have noticed you’re not able to do so. Google announced on Friday that due to COVID-19, a number of its GMB features have been suspended or limited, including new reviews, replying to reviews and Q&As.
We understand these limitations are impacting our clients and many other businesses, yet at the same time, we want to remind you that you can — and very much should — continue responding to reviews and asking your customers for reviews on Facebook, Yelp and other review platforms.
In fact, now more than ever, it’s critical that you pay attention to what customers are saying, asking about and commenting on via social media and online review platforms.
There’s been a huge surge in the use of social media and online usage ever since COVID-19 caused the need for social distancing, quarantining and lockdowns for people and communities around the world. eMarketer predicts a boost in digital media consumption across social platforms as people turn to social media to connect with loved ones or access coronavirus news.
With many local businesses having to limit their hours, shift their product or service offerings, or even shut down operations altogether, their customers are now at home, scrolling their feeds throughout the day. That means you not only have an opportunity to get in front of them with local content and remind them you’re still actively engaged with your community, but also generate and respond to your reviews online.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Which features are currently limited or suspended
- What these restrictions mean for local businesses
- What you can do about it
Which Features Are on Hiatus?
New reviews, review replies and Q&As may be unavailable during this time. If a customer leaves a review, it may not appear on your GMB profile, and/or you may not be able to respond to an existing review if you haven’t already.
Additionally, if you need to make edits to your business information, note that Google is prioritizing those edits that are critical to health-related businesses. Google has stated that it will also prioritize reviewing any edits for open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions and business attributes for other verified businesses.
At Rallio, we are supporting our clients using our Business Listing Service by helping them update their information online with the help of our Social Strategists. Any of our users who have reduced hours or closures are able to communicate that information quickly and easily across the web using this service.
What Do These Restrictions Mean for Local Business?
As a local business owner, these changes mean you may not be able to interact with your customers via GMB. Any reviews that haven’t already been handled likely will not be able to be responded to at this time.
Potentially, you may have a negative review that isn’t able to be addressed, and Google might not be able to provide any support currently.
Stella & Chewy's continues to be committed to supporting their local neighborhood pet stores, like PSP, and want to make…
What Can You Do About It?
Google is important for your business, no doubt. But it’s certainly not the only platform that matters. Here are just a few ways to mitigate the impacts of a limited GMB presence:
- Ask your customers for reviews on Facebook, Yelp and other review platforms. For our REVV clients, this means you should simply point your customers to non-GMB platforms when you request a review. If you’re not currently using REVV — our reputation accelerator that enables quick, mobile-based reviews from your clients — simply leave a comment on this post below, fill out our online contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get you some info right away.
- Edit your business listing. You may be able to add a “temporarily closed” or “takeout/delivery available” descriptor to your business name in GMB, which appears to have loosened its restrictions on such changes. However, be aware that Google is prioritizing its reviews of business information edits according to the type of business — for instance, those that are critical for health-related businesses. Therefore, there’s no guarantee your edits will have a speedy review from Google.
- Publish your reviews as posts. Any reviews you have in hand can be turned into posts and boosted (provided there’s not too much text in the graphic; Facebook is picky about that). Canva.com has some awesome tools to create eye-catching graphics. Put the body of your review in a caption and attach a nice graphic, and voila! Your review is now published.
- Ask your customers to share their reviews. You’d be amazed at how willing people are to help out their favorite small businesses right now. They can support you by giving you a shoutout via their own social media pages and Stories.
- Generate your own buzz. Go live on Instagram and Facebook to tell your customers about any changes, limited hours or just to spread some positivity, humor and love! People need to stay connected right now, and social media is the perfect venue to facilitate connection.
- Pivot. Are you facing unprecedented changes in your business? So now is the time to do unprecedented, miraculous things. We’ve seen our client Pet Supplies Plus begin offering curbside pickup. Alcohol distilleries are starting to make hand sanitizer. Fitness studios are offering live and recorded classes. Restaurants, quick-serve eateries and bars everywhere are offering free delivery, contactless delivery or pickup and other options to make quarantine life bearable.
- Keep calm and post on. Now is not the time to stop marketing yourself. Fight this coronavirus with compassion, communication and spot-on messaging as you take care of the community in which you love to do business.
The Rallio team is working remotely but still taking care of all our clients’ needs — one of the benefits of being a technology company. Get in touch with us if you’re not sure how to pivot your social media marketing right now. We have experts who not only are ready to strategize with you, but also truly care about the success of our businesses during these challenging times.
For more information on Google’s current limitations, click here.
While we advise that you cannot use our vodka as a hand sanitizer, our distillery has been working hard to get all of the pieces in place to begin production on 24 tons of hand sanitizer that adheres to industry and governmental guidance. Please see attached for more information. pic.twitter.com/c5pTzVOvv1
— TitosVodka (@TitosVodka) March 22, 2020