Don’t Get Held Hostage By Negative Reviews – Protecting Your Brand

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A lot of you reading will have heard the quote from Warren Buffet saying that it takes 20 years to build your reputation and only 5 minutes to destroy it. I’m sure that you take your brand’s reputation very seriously, but what happens when someone else is trying to destroy it?

This is a situation we very nearly found ourselves in last year.

To back up a little – we work in the internet marketing space doing Facebook ads for clients. The industry is more competitive than ever and it doesn’t help that everyone coming to us believes that Facebook is where you can acquire customers for a few cents, probably thanks to these scammy dropshipping ads you see everywhere.

Hopefully this doesn’t come across as bragging but we’re good at what we do, we have lived this day in day out since the platform launched, so I would be upset if we weren’t. We help ecommerce companies scale their current ads to new heights and we can achieve this for almost all the customers we have worked with so far.

So we were shocked when a client we had just signed put up a blog post under the title of our brand name review when we were only in the first few weeks into the campaign. We only found out when someone mentioned they had tried to look for reviews of our service and that was the only thing that they could find apart from the reviews section on our website. The post itself didn’t actually have any information added, it was just a small paragraph saying they were working with us and to contact them if anyone wanted to know about their experience with the service. When we asked them what this was they said it was their way of ensuring that we put in “honest work” to their facebook account and that they’ll update it as the results come in.

I spoke with my team and we all knew exactly what this meant. The customer was basically threatening us that if we didn’t perform, there would be a bad review posted on his website, which now came up number 1 when you searched for our brand name reviews and some other search terms.

This wasn’t something that we had ever experienced, so I contacted a few other agencies and one said that they had encountered similar and that they felt like their brand’s reputation was being held hostage by a client they wish they had never begun working with.

When it comes to putting a price on the reputation of your brand it’s hard to give an exact figure, but the World Economic Forum tried to do just that and they found 25% of a company’s market value can be directly related to their reputation. Obviously our company isn’t anywhere near the size of companies they were talking about but all I know is that our reputation was our main asset when it came to closing new deals.

While I was confident that if a potential customer contacted us we could put them in touch with a list of our happy customers who would vouch for us, I was concerned about the potential customer who didn’t contact us because of what they might read on this post if we didn’t get the results that the customer expected.

Luckily, this was actually one of our best performing ad accounts and the customer was very happy but it opened our eyes to what could have happened and how vulnerable we were.

How Can You Avoid This Happening To You?
So I’m sure you now want to know what exactly you can do to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you and the answer is quite simple. The best strategy is to have a lot of glowing reviews on a selection of authority websites.

The reason it’s important to have multiple websites is because no matter how good the review is if there’s only one website this means that the first page of the search results could be filled with 9 negative ones.

The first page of your brand related searches is effectively your company’s billboard.

If people search and they see a handful of negative reviews or articles do you think that it will portray a good brand that they want to work with? People’s attention span is shorter than ever, people probably aren’t going to dig deeper into the articles to see if they are real. Heck, if they read past the headline you’re lucky.

But how do I do that?
We can’t help with the glowing reviews part, that comes down to your service and quite frankly if you’re not providing a good service handling the bad reviews is the least of your problems.

So assuming you have a lot of happy customers – the first steps are to ask them to post reviews on popular sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Trustpilot, Clutch – these sites vary depending on what exactly you do but the first 3 are used in most industries.

These sites are huge and tend to rank automatically based on the authority of them alone plus making sure they have a good buffer of 5* reviews means that if you get a low review it won’t completely wreck the average rating.

Take for example WebFx.

They have 187 reviews with an average of 4.9 stars, if they get a 1* review it is unlikely to affect their average rating significantly.

Then compare this to a company like Polimentor.

While Polimentor has a 5 star average rating, if they have a nightmare client who wants to ruin their reputation if they just post a 1 star review, the average rating drops to 2.5 stars and when visually scanning the page a 2.5 star average will be enough to make some people click off right away. An example of this is Vista Logos.

So now you have a few websites which have multiple positive reviews on what else can you do?

Well, we can do exactly what the client in the first story did apart from have a real, positive review written by the client. This works particularly well if your client has a powerful domain strength, I don’t really know much about SEO but I know that Moz domain authority is a popular metric to check this.

We asked a few of our longest standing clients that we have a good relationship if they would mind in exchange for a free ad creative by our videographer. We asked four and three were more than happy to do so.

Unfortunately, only one of them happened to rank on the first page for our brand review related searches. So it doesn’t always work.

Managing Your Online Reputation – Why We Now Work With Reputica

So the reason I made this post is because I wanted to warn you about the situation that we ended up in so more business owners are aware of just how vulnerable we are to people attacking our reputation. It really worried me when I found out about the post, we were lucky that nothing ever really came from it but I definitely had a few sleepless nights worrying about the effect it could have on our business.

So we decided to do something about it, we spoke with the agency that had said they had dealt with this before to find out what they had done.

They hadn’t been so lucky and the customer actually left a negative review on their website as well as on all the other popular review sites. So they had to do a bit more digging and find out how to resolve this issue. They told me the best solution was to work with an online reputation management company and that they had chosen Reputica.

We spoke with Reputica’s staff and explained our situation that we wanted to protect ourselves from a potential attack on our reputation like this again. During our call it became clear that this wasn’t just a one off and unfortunately this happens quite often in some industries.

The reason we decided to work with Reputica is because we didn’t want to worry about it, we wanted them to use their expertise to manage our reputation, like I mentioned I have no real clue of how SEO works and I didnt want to learn how to do it either. Their team understands SEO – it’s vital to their client success as so many people are turning to Google to make buying decisions.

Reputica sends us a report each month of what they have been doing to help protect our brand reputation and we don’t have to worry about it. They actually managed to remove the review in the first section off the first page by flooding the first page with positive reviews and articles about our brand. When you search for any brand related terms now you are welcomed by a selection of good things to read about our company.

While I can’t measure the effectiveness,  our sales conversations have become easier, and we are closing more clients than ever. I feel like this is at least partly down to this. It makes sense; if I was about to hire a company and when I searched to do due diligence I could only find positive things about them I would be a lot easier to be convinced to buy.



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Arnov Rahman

Arnov is a Marketing Manager at SqueezeCMM, a B2B content marketing and analytics start up. He is fascinated by the intersection of technology, marketing, and people in the development of awesome products. He's into life-hacking, psychology, and data-science.

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