Protection and management of your online reputation

It’s been a grumpy day for me today, made a bit grumpier because of a tweet I came across on Twitter, and 2 phone calls I had this morning, both about similar things.

Part of the service we offer is Online Negative Reputation Management. We don’t make a big deal out of it, as it’s not cheap, and it’s not something that most people need, but we do get the occasional call about it and take on one or two jobs a month. It’s also not something we can put out case studies for, for reasons that will become obvious!

The tweet came from @france_normandy – gite owners in Normandy, France, who have recently had a couple of fake negative reviews on Trip Advisor, resulting in this blog: Trip Advisor Fake Reviews

The calls came from a photographic studio and a jewellers, both who were finding that when searching for their company name, the front page of Google brought up reviews that were negative and, as far as the callers were concerned, untrue. They were well aware that by having these negative reviews, they were losing customers – and in both cases, the loss of just one or two customers meant a considerable amout of money.

While writing this blog I’m reminded of another call a couple of weeks ago from a wedding organiser who organised weddings in another country. She had some great testimonials, but a disgruntled ex employee had started a campaign against her, and knowing the internet better than her, had managed to get some great front page positions slagging her off, posing as an unhappy customer.

See, one of the things I love about the internet is freedom of speech. Anyone can have their say on bad customer experiences – I use the web frequently to moan about Orange.fr and Aweber, among other things! But it can also be a bad thing, because if your livelihood is online, and bad reviews and negative comments can affect you, then you’re vulnerable and at risk.

It’s bad enough when the reviews are true – and believe me, we’ve had plenty of customers where we’ve quickly realised the reviews were true and had to implement a strategy to deal with that and enable them to come out of it looking better.

But when they’re untrue and the sites involved have published them without checking, without thinking, and in a lot of cases without verifying the person involved, it’s worse. Reviews that are negative and downright untrue, yet have no real name attached, can’t be traced back to an actual customer, and may even be a competitor or ex employee / business partner can still be accepted and read as if they’re true.

And in a lot of cases the vendor has no comeback – not all review sites let you challenge a review, and some of them will just refuse to remove the bad reviews, no matter what proof you send.

In the cases I talk about above, the jeweller, the photographer and the wedding planner, we are able to help – we can implement a strategy to drive the negative reviews off the front page, limit the damage caused by the reviews in other ways, and help to limit the impact they have.

In the case of @france_normandy, Trip Advisor is a big part of their business, and really needs to tighten up its processes to avoid a backlash. Happily it looks as if that one will be sorted out in the end, but at what cost? The longer a negative review is in a prominent position, the more damage it can do.

It’s a timely reminder to keep on top of what is being said about you online – make sure you at least have Google Alerts set up so that anything published with your copany name is seen by you immediately and can be responded to – if it’s in the public eye then your potential customers could be seeing it.

In a world where ‘to Google’ is common before choosing a supplier, make sure that if someone ‘Googles’ you, they see what YOU want them to see, not what your enemies do…

If you’re having problems with negative online reputation management, drop me a line, I might be able to help.

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About Nikki

Author of many 30 Day Blogging Challenges, Nikki spends her time helping small businesses with Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing. With 17 years of experience, she hasn't yet found someone she couldn't help to get more business from their website.

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