Online Reputation Management
Online Reputation Management has been receiving a lot of attention lately. Many people are calling it the new digital extortion.
As the internet continues to grow, so will the number of people who post negative reviews about your business. After researching Online Reputation Management for the last 2 months, I wanted to outline some key factors to help you get a better understanding of what you should and should not do if and when your business gets attacked by bad reviews.
Online Reputation Management vs. Offline Reputation Management
Years ago sharing information meant word of mouth or telling a few friends and that was it. Today sharing means telling everyone in your social networks, creating blogs, YouTube channels or writing them up in well known websites like www.ripoffreport.com, www.scam.com and many others that rank extremely well in the search engines. These monster sites are in place to specifically expose companies or individuals who mistreat their customers, or who are simply unethical in the way they do business. The content that is posted on these review websites is by their registered members and is protected by the Communications Decency Act established in 1996.
Let's not forget about social networks. Social networks can have an upwards of thousands of active people who are more than willing to listen to your story and most likely comment on it. As this is a powerful avenue, the real question is, do you really want to roll the dice? Be warned, this method is risky and could back-fire on you.
The Dos & Don'ts of Online Reputation Management
Don't Ignore The Problem
In some cases it may be in your best interest to ignore an irate customer, but in most cases it is not recommended to turn your back and walk away. Chances are your customers are on top of it, which means you should be. When it comes to your Online Reputation you need to be proactive. The more time you spend managing reviews, posts or comments about your business or even you personally, the more likely you are to eventually blanket your negative image from the public eye. Unless you are successful at convincing the angry customer or website owner to delete the the negative reviews, otherwise this can be a long and drawn out process.
Don't Threaten Or Argue
If your goal is to get clean up your bad reputation, never threaten or argue with the person or business who added the negative review or content. This will only enrages them to post more ugly reviews on other review sites. Not to mention, it makes your character look less mature by showing everyone just how angry and defensive you are. Nobody wants to do business with that kind of person. More often than not, it may make sense to use reverse psychology and accept the criticism and admit you may have made an error and ask the customer how you can make them happy. This will make your readers take a step back, and make you look like the more level headed person, which will quickly set you apart from the bad review and place you on higher ground.
Don't Write Fake Reviews
Even though many SEO companies are trying to cash in on ORM by writing fake reviews, posts and comments in hopes of eventually blanketing your negative image. Many review sites strongly discourage business owners and SEO companies from writing fake reviews. This is morally and ethically wrong, not to mention some of your readers / customers will see through it. This kind of practice often back-fires, even if you are an expert at writing compelling stories. Review sites have protocols and algorithms designed to sniff out fakes, just like Google. Getting caught risks your business getting blacklisted by search engines, customers and review sites. If this happens to your business, repairing your online reputation will be the least of your problems.
Don't Bribe Customers
Offering small incentives to your customers to get them to write reviews may seem like a harmless way to fix the problem. However, this strategy is not recommended by large review sites and usually doesn’t work. Avoid any kind of tactic that involves bribing customers, friends or family to help you generate positive reviews, posts, or comments. Some may even take offense and could post negative reviews in retaliation when you least expect it, especially now that they know how valuable it is to you.
Don't Ask Anyone To Post Positive Reviews
Similar to #4, I don't know anyone who enjoys feeling manipulated or pressured. Ask your customers to review your business because you value their genuine feedback. Most people will be flattered that you trust them, which will in-turn build loyalty and trust down the road, leading to high-quality, positive reviews.
People will post negative reviews, and there is nothing we can do to stop them. Once the negative review is up, your goal is to get it deleted or at worst, made unavailable to the public. This is done a few different ways.
Contact the angry customer and ask them nicely to delete the review.
If the review was posted in any one of the monster complaint / review sites, contact the owner or moderator and tell them your story and ask them what you need to do. This rarely works because without bad reviews these companies would not exist.
If the review was in the form of a video, chances are it is attached to a YouTube channel or some other video hosting company. In which case you would contact the owner of the channel and ask them nicely to remove the damaging video. If that doesn't work contact customer support and see what you need to do.
If you are not successful with any of the above attempts. Be prepared to spend a significant amount of time in an attempt to cover up the negative reviews with positive reviews yourself. Even though this is not recommended, there really isn't anything else left to do. The last thing you want to do is contact an SEO company. They will post more negative reviews about your business knowing that you need them to remove it. This will cost you thousands!
As far as taking legal action against companies like Rip Off Report and many others, these companies are protected by two federal laws, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), American Internet Service Providers and these review sites currently have a Teflon coating to protect them. Responsible companies who meet the provisions of these two laws can repel lawsuits based upon claims of copyright infringement, defamation, or related claims. And for that reason, lawyers won't touch it, nor any lawyer take the job on contingency unless they know it has potential to compensate them well for their time.
Consumer Complaint Resources
Scam.com is a Blog / Forum system that gives you your own personal space. Depending on how the administrator has configured the blog, you will be able to create your own entries and control who may view them.
Ripoff Report is a service to the world's consumers. The Ripoff Report enables YOU the consumer to be armed with the opinions and comments of your fellow consumers. This report will help you exercise your first amendment right to freedom of speech. By using our forum, you will have an opportunity to speak out against companies, businesses, governments, and individuals that have treated you unfairly. Once your report is posted, millions of fellow consumers worldwide will have access to your information!
The most trusted and popular consumer complaints website. Similar to Rip Off Report.
Pissed Consumer is dedicated to let people share consumer experience about products and services.
The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and operates as an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress. Visit their website to read the rest.
We created Gripevine to provide a neutral, fair and level playing field where consumers and companies can come together to work out their differences and arrive at successful resolutions to common consumer complaints.
PeopleClaim's alternative dispute resolution services have helped thousands of people tell their side of the story in complaints involving bad business practices, over billing, fraud and other misconduct. This includes negative BBB ratings, Yelp and other online reviews, unfair credit scores or any other content that’s harming you or your business’s reputation.
As the leading complaint resolution platform, Scambook's primary purpose is to give consumers like you a voice. Whether you're a victim of fraud or bad business practices, we aim to help share your story and even find a resolution. We are here to provide a platform where we can help you spread the word and fight against scammers, fraud, and bad business.
TheSqueakyWheel.com gives individual consumers more power than ever before. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - it works to make sure that complaints cannot be ignored.
USA.gov's objective is to provide a free service, enabling the global community to easily and rapidly find U.S. government information that has been posted on the Internet. It offers a powerful search engine and an index of web-accessible government information and services to help you find what you need.
Consumer Review Resources
This website is made to help customers resolve their consumer complaints / issues and prevent others from doing or making the same mistakes.
Blagger.com is designed to allow the general public to leave comments on companies and individuals who they have used. You can then use this site to check companies out before you use them. It's as simple as that.
MouthShut.com helps consumers make informed shopping decisions. A potential shopper can find reviews on every business or brand right from large corporations to small local businesses, all written by an average consumer like him. This translates to millions of reviews on hundreds of thousands of products.
ConsumerAffairs is a consumer news and advocacy organization founded in 1998 by James R. Hood, a veteran Washington, D.C. journalist and public affairs executive. Our website includes consumer news, recall information and tens of thousands of pages of consumer reviews.
Viewpoints helps shoppers make better, smarter decisions. Our team has worked hard to translate unfiltered, genuine end-user insights into helpful product feedback—scores, rankings and recommendations—that help you connect the dots and quickly identify the best product for your needs and avoid disappointment. You can have absolute trust in the reviews and articles you read on Viewpoints.
ReviewGist seems like a great place to check out the broader merits of a product before making a big purchase.
A Quote from IM Report Card -- Unlike other bogus "review" sites run by money-hungry affiliates who'll say anything to make a buck, we provide unbiased reviews and let our community decide the merits of a product or service by grading it and sharing their own experiences.
Simply put, Buzzillions is a product reviews site that helps shoppers avoid costly mistakes. Buzzillions offers product reviews and tools for you to research purchases before you buy.
Epinions helps people make informed buying decisions. It is a premier consumer reviews platform on the Web and a reliable source for valuable consumer insight, unbiased advice, in-depth product evaluations and personalized recommendations.
Review Center is a community of real people, just like you, sharing their product and service experiences. Our community of reviewers are a passionate bunch who want to help you discover what's right for you.