The internet is a massive marketplace of products, services, and ideas. Unfortunately, the sheer mass of all three on the internet means that inevitably, some of them are going to be regrettable. The problem for consumers is distinguishing between the products, services, and ideas that are useful and trustworthy, and those that aren’t. The problem for businesses is managing their online reputation, and assuring those customers that their product or service is trustworthy, dependable, and high-quality when there are so many out there that aren’t.
A surprisingly high percentage of businesses respond to that problem with misconceptions. Those include disregarding the issue as meaningless, as random opinions on the internet are to be taken with a grain of salt; deciding that the internet is so vast, there’s nothing to be done about it; and the belief that responding is useless because who can tell a quality organization’s legitimate responses from a disreputable one’s dishonest excuses? The fact is, online reputation management (ORM) is an be effective marketing tool and refutation of all of those misconceptions.
Just as personal reputation managers will advise their clients that it’s better to remove personal information from Google than allow for damaging or sensitive information to remain available, a negative comment is not worth three positive ones or nothing at all. It’s true that people are skeptical of claims made on the internet. However, they are a lot more skeptical of claims made by companies touting the quality of their product or service than they are of a customer or client’s negative review.
Even on the internet, word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective tools for swaying customers for or against a business’ services. Due to the massive human traffic online, a great product can be smeared in a pettier, more vindictive, more pointless, and more widely-broadcast fashion than any other medium has ever made possible. It requires next to no effort for someone to give a bad review or make a harmful (and often untrue) claim because they’re a competitor, had a bad experience that was no fault of the business due to a misunderstanding, or simply because they’re bored.
First off, some basic security should be considered. Engage an online privacy specialist who can teach executives and employees how to remove personal information from Google and how to avoid the sort of online behavior that can trigger negative responses. Protecting sales, credibility, your brand’s image, and maintaining a productive recruitment policy are all excellent reasons for avoiding negative public reactions as often as possible. As such a good defense should be paired with a robust offense as well.
And that offensive strategy is chiefly a matter of scouring the internet for negative claims about your business and responding to them. How that response is handled is obviously contextual. However, in most situations responding to a misconception is better than deleting negative comments or having them removed. Even when comments seem downright libelous, actively malicious, and /or a threat to profits and reputation, those can be the result of honest misunderstandings. Whenever possible, attempt to respond to comments with the truth, providing the facts and figures to support it when available. When appropriate, consider responding to the comment with an explanation and offer of refund or recompense in some way. A little communication can go a long way.
DeleteMe is a Boston-based online service striving to improve the safety and user experience of everyone who uses the internet. They are committed to doing so by returning control of users’ data to the user. Employing the considerable expertise of their team of privacy, identity theft, and consumer protection experts allows them to offer a full suite of user-friendly privacy solutions. Whether you’re concerned about payment security, password protection, removal from Whitepages, or anything else that contributes to your personal data staying private, DeleteMe is the ultimate online security solution.
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