Social media is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It provides a source of free marketing for small businesses to take advantage of when the price of print promotion and editorial ad space is just too high. It simultaneously allows big brands to communicate with their customers on ground level and develop a type of audience engagement that just wasn’t possible before. However with every silver lining comes a cloud and this cloud comes in the form of online trolls and it’s vital that you know how to deal with them.

Unlike those friendly pot-bellied plastic troll with neon candyfloss hair that stands smiling at you every day from your office desk, online trolls are out to get you in order to wipe out the Online Reputation Managementcompetition. They sit in their dingy lairs, hunched over their computers, tapping away their venomous comments with purely bad intentions. They leave unfair negative comments via your social media platforms and post detrimental review on mainstream sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp but it’s time to stop these monsters in their tracks and learn how to deal with online complaints.

New research done by online reputation management consultancy, Igniyte has shown that more than 50% of UK businesses have fallen victim to these online trolls. This is a worrying statistic as negative comments posted in the public domain can have a devastating impact on the success and reputation of small businesses.

Out of the 1,000 decision makers polled by Igniyte, 75% agreed that online reviews are instrumental in determining the financial and reputational status of a business with one in six agreeing that bad reviews have the power to completely destroy it. The research also revealed that 30% of businesses had to spend between £11,000 and £20,000 on external reputation management companies, legal fees and social media managers to rectify the consequences of toxic comments. A fifth were forced to fork out up to £30,000 in an attempt to negate the damage.

While large companies are subject to wider exposure due to more widespread online following, negative comments carry more destructive weight for small and medium sized enterprises. An SME relies on much smaller demographics and customer bases to keep their businesses afloat so just one bad review can have serious implications on its future.

How NOT to do it…

A couple were recently fined by the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool for leaving a negative online review that dubbed the establishment a “rotten sticking hotel”. The hotel claimed to have a company policy that meant guest could be charged up to £100 for leaving bad reviews. The policy supposedly stated: “despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review”. And that, my friend, is exactly how not to deal with bad reviews!

Knowing how to deal with these negative reviews could be the difference between life and death for your business. If you want some advice from our experts on how to deal with online trolls, unjust comments and the dreaded Streisand Effect, drop us a line

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