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reputation management

According to the latest research, as much as 88 percent of Internet users now read online reviews to determine whether a local business is good or not. That’s why many business owners and marketers have decided to embrace reviews, taking on a more active role in listening and responding to what their customers have to say online. In short: review management has become a critical part of every marketer’s strategy.

Some, however, are hoping to take the easy way out – by finding all sorts of ways to game the system. We’re posting a list that describes some of the not-so-nice things they’re doing. Hopefully, you don’t end up making the same mistakes.

Penalizing or banning negative reviews 

Recently in France, a food blogger was forced by the court to edit her negative review of an Italian café. (She eventually deleted the entire review.) A few weeks later, a group of Michelin-starred chefs and restaurateurs launched a petition to ban defamatory, damaging negative reviews.

Honestly? This is not the way to get rid of bad buzz surrounding your business. It’s probably not going to work here in America anyway. Just ask the management of Union Street Guest House, a Hudson, New York hotel that generated plenty of unwanted negative publicity after it sought to fine guests $500 for every negative online review. Our advice is: respond to reviews. Don’t penalize.

Hiring and paying someone to write fake reviews 

There are a number of business owners who give themselves 5-star ratings and great reviews, hoping to boost their online profile and business reputation. They hire writers from some country like the Philippines to post these fake reviews for them.

Unfortunately, if you follow a similar path, you not only increase the risk of getting caught by the review sites (and consequently being penalized by them); you also risk looking fake and inauthentic in the eyes of review readers. You don’t want to sound too good to be true.

(Check out: “Giving Yourself 5 Stars? Cons of Faking Your Online Reviews”)

Insulting or harassing negative reviewers 

You’ve got to deal with critics professionally and politely. There’s no use resorting to online catfights and name-calling. Their feedback may be negative, but there’s no excuse for insulting and harassing your own customers. Just check out these business owners who lost their patience and responded to reviewers in the nastiest ways you can imagine.

Ask yourself the question: would you really choose to do business with people like that? Obviously not. So be nice.

Bribing reviewers to change their opinion 

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of bribing someone to change a bad review into a good review. After all, if it’s a matter of a few gift certificates or a freebie, then why not? But you can’t buy goodwill – especially not on community-based review sites where consumers exchange information and share opinions freely with other consumers. Anyway, most of these sites prohibit business owners from offering compensation of any kind to reviewers.

(Check out: “What NOT to Do When Monitoring and Responding to Reviews”)

Suing the negative reviewers 

There’s quite a history of business owners suing individual consumers for supposedly defamatory bad reviews. One of the most high-profile cases was when a Yelp-listed housing contractor sued a woman in Virginia for posting a critical review of the company. It’s kind of sad, really, that some businesses see it fit to take the matter to court.

We here at ReviewTrackers don’t recommend it. Instead, you should invest your time and energy on applying best practices in reputation management, such as having a rapid response strategy, implementing a review monitoring system, and having a dedicated staff member who will take the main responsibility of managing each and every review.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. John Dillon

    Who won on court in that Virginia case? I really hope it was not the business owner. It would be great if they lost the case and the negative review stayed online. You get a review depending on what you offer. Provide the best quality and you will get five star reviews. Fail in providing quality and deal with the negative influence of the well deserved review.

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  2. Jason S.

    Deleting reviews, bribing reviewers, forcing people to court, paying for reviews….Why would anybody believe in review sites and write any review, when it can only harm them? Nobody knows how much fake reviews have they read and if they are going to provide a sincere review they could be sued. Once again I am asking; What is the point of review sites then?

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  3. WilmaP

    Do these business owners who fake their reviews really believe that people are suckers and that they will buy those “human bot” reviews? Those are pathetic tries to make something out of nothing.

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  4. Martin W

    Review sites are a complete and absolute joke, they are unfairly damaging and they stress out a lot of business owners for no good reason, this review practice needs regulation, but our politicians are asleep at the wheel. A lot of damming reviews are written by depressive people who love to complain about everything and any thing. They are the people in society no one can make happy. Business that provide their services in a proper and legal manner are demonized made out to be criminals just because they are in business, also if you believe a business owner who lives and dies by his reputation and feed his family is not going to game a computer review site/s with great tenacity in the name of survival then you are very ignorant to what motivates people to live and wanna keep living. Review sites are a sad part of modern society and are pure and complete crap.

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