A majority of AIM member employers choose not to respond to comments made about their companies on social media and Internet rating sites, according to a new AIM poll.
Sixty-two percent of companies responding the AIM monthly issues poll say they never answer what most experts believe is a swelling volume of online consumer feedback. Twenty-seven percent say they respond only to answer a question, 1 percent respond only when they have time and 10 percent always respond.
The results are based on responses from 152 employers.
The survey was taken amid media reports last month of several restaurants and hotels seeking to remove themselves from the popular online rating service TripAdvisor, which is based in Needham and is an AIM member. TripAdvisor maintains ratings on all operating business, an approach that has allowed the site to grow into a platform with more than 320 million reviews of businesses around the globe.
Online customer comments have become an important issue for businesses as traditional word-of-mouth referrals move to the Web and become globally visible. A recent survey by Brightlocal found that the percent of consumers who form their opinions about a business through online reviews rose from 22 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2014.
Being part of the review forums often bolster a business’ bottom line. One Harvard Business School study of restaurants in Washington found that a one-star increase in Yelp ratings led to a 5-to-9 percent increase in revenue. A report from the Boston Consulting Group involving a survey of nearly 4,800 small businesses found that companies who have a Yelp profile yet do not advertise on the site saw their annual revenue increase by $8,000 on average.
Several companies responding to the AIM survey say they do not use social media for business purposes. Others said they leave the task of monitoring online comments to their marketing departments or to an outside marketing firm.
Companies point out that the issue of online comments does not stop at consumer reviews, but also includes sites that allow current employees to evaluate the company for the benefit of job seekers.
“We just discovered GlassDoor and are diligent about responding to every comment on that site,” one member wrote.