Recently, the Fed has announced that it will publish product/brand complains that deal with safety and risk of injury online through its new website: SaferProducts.gov. As explained in this Ad Age article, the Fed has mostly kept serious safety complaints private from public view in the past, but they are quickly changing course and it has left companies and search marketers wondering what the impact is going to be.
Another Avenue for Spammers & Competitors?
How will this website filter through complaints successfully to ensure that they’re in fact genuine? If we’ve learned anything from other review websites such as Yelp and RipOffReport, we’ve learned that there will always be eager competitors ready to falsify complaints and/or give bad reviews to other companies in their space, and this continues to be a significant issue.
These sites have indeed attempted to address this problem through checks and balances and their own internal algorithms, but will the Fed be able to do something similar? If not, this could be a disaster. Not only does the Fed have a large sounding board, but they also will (I’m estimating) garner top search spots for brand terms due to the link popularity and trust of the site.
What would you do if you found a scathing SaferProducts.gov review showing up in the search results for your company’s name? Some serious reputation management and Internet marketing know-how will be required to push that result off of the first page!
Then again, to some extent, aren’t public comments and reviews already available? What does this change? Social media has given everyone a voice if they want it bad enough, and poor company reviews can easily be found online for many brands already. I spoke about this in my previous post regarding Honda’s Facebook page getting terrible comments. In this regard, SaferProducts.gov might not be anything new. In fact, one could argue that social media hubs could ultimately be worse than SaferProducts.gov.
Either way, this shows that online reputation management is becoming increasingly necessary for companies both large and small. Being involved in online conversations about your brand is important and should be a key part of any company’s online marketing strategy, it’s just now there might be yet another website to track for poor reviews of your company.