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How to Fight Fake Reviews and Build Better Brand Reputation Online
By Robert Wilson | October 29, 2015

We understand the harmful side effects that negative reviews can leave on your online business reputation and that is why our previous article was all about how can fake reviews ruin your local business for real. Whether it is in favor or against a particular business service, posting fake reviews is without doubt, a bad practice.

Fight Back Fake Reviews

It can affect businesses of any size, big or small. While some businesses tend to fall victim to their own greed that leads them to hire professional writers to write good reviews in their favor, others (especially big businesses) become victims to malicious reviews for absolutely no fault of their own. It feels frustrating to listen to some of those bitterest criticisms thrown against you when you are aware that you have done nothing as such to even earn it. Some of these are written by competitors, ex-employees or even customers who tend to carry some kind of grudge against you and again there are some that are genuine. Nevertheless, the truth is, a bad review can cause a significant damage to your online business reputation in an instant.

Take a look at the MC Donald’s story

Little did the famous food chain realize that their friendly social media hashtag campaign (#mcdstories) would backfire so unexpectedly to become a horror story. Many Twitter users began using the hashtag to share their bad experiences. An example of bad publicity, the brand decided to pull out from the campaign in order to prevent it from becoming a disaster. Well, too late for that, for the damage (though to some extent) has already been done and everyone now knows how bad publicity online can harm a business reputation within the blink of an eye.

But would you have preferred had MC Donald’s done something different that day, instead of pulling out of the campaign altogether? That is where you realize that your online reputation management calls for prudent and swift action, which is very important to focus on when you have got to deal with fake reviews.

Dealing With Fake Reviews

The milk has been spilt and there is no more point in crying over it. Neither would you think about replying back to your reviewers with verbal attacks and accusations. This would create a false impression for other viewers who may come to the page to read your business reviews and become unexpected witnesses to your bad attitude. Relax! You can deal the fake reviews better than this. There are ways in which you can deal with them smartly, but before that, the number one rule is to have patience.

Patience is the ability to keep good attitude even when you are in your bad times

#1 – Identify the Fake Reviews

Don’t ignore them! For the more you do so, the more these spammers are likely to take advantage of it. Remember, if your competitor had the heart to set you on a damaging spree by posting fake reviews, then their efforts to harm you could become all the more relentless if ignored. Nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on the reviews that your business is receiving on various sites and even set up Google Alerts for your company name. Start growing your brand reputation by acquiring and asking your customers for reviews that are positive and true.

#2 – Research a Review Before Declaring it Fake

Just like posting of fake reviews is a bad practice, making quick assumptions that a particular negative review is false is also not a good policy. It can happen, that someone genuine is not happy with your business service and wants you to know about it. Therefore, take some time to make a thorough research before you start declaring that a particular review is false. There are many ways by which you can identify a fake review and some of the common traits that are generally to be identified are – heavy usage of industry lingo, weak nature of the account profile from where a review is being posted and the viciousness of the tone of the review. If you are trying to identify a review over the social networking platforms such Facebook and Google+, then make a search in order to detect any trace of connection between the reviewer’s profile and that of your competitor. You can then have the review removed by contacting the respective website where it has been posted. Review sites don’t often agree to remove a negative review unless they find it going against their rules and conditions. However, if you have valid evidence to make a strong claim then you can challenge them. You can even use these real evidences to inform the Better Business Bureau or the Local Chamber of Commerce and bring the matter to their attention. In order to combat problems like this, a lot of review sites are now coming up with unique algorithms that can help businesses fix this problem by streaming out fake and biased reviews completely.

#3 – Respond to Fake Reviews

Responding to fake reviews is a smart approach. This way, you can get the chance to defend yourself and your reputation while at the same time look into the matter. You can do it yourself or register with an online directory site that has got one of those direct customer communication support from where you can manage your accounts across multiple social sites, manage your reviews, keep track of the latest updates and even respond to a particular customer with a better solution.

But responding to negative reviews out in the open calls for a constructive approach. According to some experts, the best way to deal with them is to respond to such reviews in a way that makes it clear to any third party who is reading the conversation. Treat an unhappy customer with compassion and contrition but at the same time keeping it all professional. Remember, you have got a professional image to restore. If you decide to flag a particular review and follow it up with a response, then make sure that it highlights your professionalism and customer commitment to other potential clients. Southwest Airlines is a good example you can take cue from. Their brand management in response to a particular crisis helped them to earn a number of good reviews and even helped them build up a reputation among their customers.

#4 – Build a Strong Digital Media Presence

With so many reviews that get posted every day, how do you keep a watch on all of them? Besides, it is not always easy to identify and differentiate a fake review from a genuine one. Even if you manage to respond to certain fake reviews, some of them might persist and hence damage your online reputation. Nevertheless, sometimes the best way you can tackle these fake reviews is by drowning them with the ones that are real and are positive. Try collecting as many as 10 positive reviews every week and stay consistent. Keep a track on your business profile operations across different social sites and online directories to follow important data. If you find it difficult to follow activities across multiple platforms all at the same time, then try registering with one of those online directories that provide users with an intelligent dashboard that can help you manage all your profile summaries, keep track of all your newsfeeds and even manage your activities from one place only. Building a strong digital media presence takes time, so why not start doing it as early as possible.

#5 – Stop Getting Angry and Frustrated

That is not the key to getting over fake and negative reviews. What you can do is think about ways to make your business brand more strong and engaging among your customers. You can encourage your customers to post good reviews on your behalf by indirectly indicating how much you would appreciate their feedback in case they are satisfied with your service. You can offer special discounts or vouchers as incentives to improve your customer engagement and loyalty. You can even share QR codes across the social media sites and invite people from your social media group to experience a smart business service.

Choose your options wisely

However, that does not mean you go crucifying everyone who comes up with even the slightest criticism. After all, a little bit of criticism can help to make you look at your business from a different angle, which in turn would help you out to come up with better service. But if fake reviews come to trouble you, now you know what necessary actions to take to troubleshoot them away.

About the Author

Robert Wilson is a Customer Engagement & Retention Advisor for Local Businesses at Vintelli, a next generation mobile and web directory application. In his 5 years of experience in this field, he has assisted many local businesses in engaging customers, increasing customer loyalty and retaining customers. Robert is counted on when it comes to crafting strategies to drive up customer loyalty.

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