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YourBuzz Helps Businesses Burnish their Online Reputation

The social media buzz regarding your business can turn around and bite you if you don't pay attention to what's being said. But even though social media use by small businesses has doubled in the past year, only about half of small businesses use social networks to monitor customer feedback. American Express has introduced a new tool that will help companies connect the reputational dots.

YourBuzz is a free tool from American Express OPEN to help small businesses stay in touch with what people are saying about them (and make sure their listings are correct) across a social media spectrum that includes Facebook, CitySearch, Yelp, Twitter, Foursquare, Yahoo, Bing and Superpages, with more sites to be added in the coming months.

The service is available for all small businesses and is not limited to American Express Cardmembers.

What people are saying about companies is a big deal for small businesses. Nielsen researchers say that 90 percent of consumers trust reviews by people they know and 70 percent trust comments posted online, even if they don't know the poster.

"Customer reviews and referrals are what small businesses live and die by," Rob Ciccone, OPEN's vice president, told BusinessNewsDaily.

Making lemonade from lemons

Even when the buzz about your business is bad, he said, savvy businesses know how to take a potentially negative situation and turn it to their advantage. According to "The Retail Report," 85 percent of customers who posted a negative review of a shopping experience and were then contacted by the retailer wound up taking an action that resulted in a positive outcome for the retailer.

It's critical that small businesses become part of the social media conversation , Ciccone said. And the first step of that conversation is listening.

By creating a one-stop social media monitoring portal, YourBuzz helps reduce the barrier to entry into social media for small businesses.

"Our Small Business Monitor showed an increasing number of entrepreneurs (44 percent) use social media tools to promote their business to new customers—this is up from 39 percent six months ago, "Ciccone said "But there is still hesitation as business owners don't know where to begin, don't have the time or don't know how to engage their customers. YourBuzz helps them become part of the conversation."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.