I attended a very good seminar today conducted by Kim Canducci of Social Tree Marketing on the topic of on-line reputation management. This has become a topic of great concern to business owners, as it has become easier and easier for anyone to ruin a reputation simply by posting negative reviews on a number of websites and social media.
Any business owner will tell you that you just can’t please all of the people, all of the time. No matter how hard you try! Some people just aren’t happy with anything you do. Then there’s the matter of disgruntled ex-employees who spread false information and rumors to “punish” you for firing them.
Some of what I learned today was not very good news. It’s extremely difficult to remove a negative comment from some websites, even if the complaint was not legitimate. Yelp is particularly difficult. Some business owners I’ve spoken with feel that Yelp puts forward the negative comments and makes it more difficult to find the positive comments. In addition, if you don’t sign up for a Yelp account, comments that you leave will not be as prominent as if you created an account.
You can leave a response to a negative comment on some of the review sites, but you can’t remove them.
The good news is that most consumers don’t expect the reviews of your business to be 100% positive. In fact, if they are, they may be suspicious. The trick is to have many more positive than negative reviews.
So how do you do that? Well let’s actually start with how NOT to do that. Do not, under any circumstances, post fake comments about your own business, or get friends and family to post fake comments. Most review sites, and Google, can see the IP addresses of the reviewers, and if they see multiple reviews from the same IP address, will remove them. Not only that, but it’s actually illegal to post fake reviews, or even to pay someone to post a review for you and not disclose in the post that they were paid.
It all comes down to getting as many of your clients and customers as possible to leave positive reviews for you on as many sites as possible: Yelp, Google Plus, Angie’s List, CitySearch, Bing, Yahoo, and any other sites that may already have reviews of your business posted.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Everyone is busy, and they may pay lip service, but never really carry through. We brainstormed some ideas this morning, including:
- surveying your customers so that you can pro-actively handle any possible negative situations before they decide to post comments, and also request positive reviews from those who loved your product or service
- doing a video testimonial with a customer right on the spot, and post it on YouTube
- interviewing your customer to find out what they loved about you, writing the testimonial yourself and get their approval, and then posting it on your website. While you can’t post it to review sites, you can send people to your testimonials web page, use them in your collateral materials, etc.
Kim also has a service that involves pro-actively soliciting feedback from customers, which then directs them to review sites, where they can post a positive review. It makes it easier for them to leave positive comments about your business, and it also makes it easier for you to find the customers who are willing to do so.
If there are negative comments floating around about your business, ignore them at your own peril!