Praise for your small business means a lot coming from your customers—especially when potential customers get to see or hear how great everyone thinks your business is. According to data from Socialnomics, 90 percent of online consumers trust reviews from people they know—and 70 percent trust unknown users.

Customer testimonials have a greater positive impact on the reputation of your business than nearly any other form of marketing. So how can you get more of them, and use them to your advantage?

Sift Through Social Media for Positive Mentions

People do a lot of talking on social media—after all, that’s what it’s for. And one of the most talked-about subjects is consumerism. Social media users enjoy letting their friends and followers know what they think about the products and services they use.

Chances are good you’ll be able to find positive mentions of your business on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or other relevant social networks. You can use a search tool like Social Mention to look for posts that talk about your business, and excerpt positive feedback to use as testimonials.

Keep an Eye on Your Inbox

When a business delivers exceptional service—as yours probably does regularly—customers will sometimes email the company to thank them and let them know how much they appreciate the great job.

Watch your inbox for emails like this. When you receive praise via email, ask the customer whether you can quote them on what they’ve written. Most people are happy to give permission to share—but remember to ask, because emails are considered private correspondence.

Run a Customer Survey

Surveys are not only a great way to get customer feedback and improve your business, but they’re also a great strategy for soliciting testimonials. Create a short survey about your business, and include some space for personal feedback. Be sure to let your customers know that by completing the survey, they’re giving permission for you to use their responses in your marketing material.

You can also use data from surveys to pull spotlighted statistics for use in marketing, with categories that have a majority of positive responses.

Hold a Video Testimonial Contest

Video testimonials can be even more effective than written quotes. You can collect a lot of them in a short time by holding a contest, and offering prizes to the customers who send in the best video testimonials.

By having a contest, you’ll not only receive stronger testimonials (because your customers will be competing to outdo one another), but you’ll also avoid the expense and the hassle of recording video testimonials yourself.

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