How to deal with negative content, commentary and reviews online

General

The speed that information travels online has changed the way we share, interact and comment with companies and brands.

People have always used the internet to exchange advice, views and information, but social media and the widening use of consumer forums and reviews have resulted in open expression on companies, corporations and brands.

For consumers, this has changed the way they can access information on a company or service, but there is a negative side to open expression on the internet. This is both in terms of leaving comments or thoughts online about a company or brand and in the management of content that exists online.

Igniyte work with companies and individuals and have seen the negative effects of free commentary online for both.

For companies, reviews and consumer forums such as TripAdvisor, Money Saving Expert and some of the more negatively-named review sites growing in ranking terms.
Social media, forums and review websites allow (in the main) no substantiation for content posted. For larger companies who have the resource and budget, they are able to challenge and listen out for unsubstantiated or defamatory comments and also ensure that positive content is syndicated via websites, blogs, advertising, PR and social media
For smaller companies and individuals, facing negative content online can make or break businesses and cause personal stress.

That said, there are practical actions that can be taken and on the whole, the main review sites, forums and social media platforms do offer a way to report inappropriate content.
My advice for businesses facing negative commentary online:

1. If your company is receiving negative reviews, don’t be tempted to fake positive reviews as a method of managing negative content online. You need to ensure that you have and maintain a positive review strategy and are using genuine reviews as a way to improve business processes. If customers are genuinely complaining, it’s for a reason and if nothing is done, the reviews and negative comments will keep coming.

2. Don’t be tempted to get into long conversations on review threads – it only keeps the thread alive. If reviews use threatening language, defamatory comments, personal attacks or terms such as “SCAM” – contact the site and try attempt to get these comments removed.

3. Try and resolve repetitive threads where similar issues are arising regularly. Unless you tackle the issue internally, you’ll be facing similar complaints on an on-going basis.
4. Proactively push happy customers into leaving their comments online. Collect good customer testimonials. Don’t make them up – it’s obvious both to users of the website, but also to the owners of the site.

For individuals facing defamatory comments and harmful remarks online, know that you can do something about this.

1. Contact the site itself highlight the negative comments and report them. All good websites, forums and social platforms post their terms of use, assuming the content is in breach of this – report it.

2. If the content is posted on a personal blog and contacting the site would aggravate the issue further, look to the removal options available on the search engines such as Google. Google and the other major search engines have removal tools which are simple form that can be completed. The search engines cannot remove content directly from the offending websites but they can remove the links to the content from their search results.

3. Images and video content can also be challenged, if the content is of an adult nature, use the same search engine removal tools and contact the offending sites directly. Don’t be embarrassed to do this.

Useful Links:

https://www.facebook.com/legal/terms/update – Facebook terms of use

https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311-the-twitter-rules – Twitter terms of use

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals – Google Removals (you need to be signed in to a gmail account)

 

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