Online reviews are a powerful currency between consumers that can influence their buying decisions and severely impact a business’s reputation and overall success.
This makes it important for businesses to consistently monitor their reputation online and manage reviews as they are posted.
Recently, Anvil Media’s own Kent Lewis was featured as an industry expert in a report by The Manifest, a business news and how-to website, on how small businesses should manage online reviews.
He offered valuable insight into how businesses can leverage online reviews to boost their digital reputation, focusing on every business’s worst public relations nightmare: fake online reviews.
1. Flag the Fake Review to Alert Platform
One of the first things businesses should do if they notice fake reviews about their brand is flag it, if the platform allows.
On Yelp, businesses can flag fake reviews by clicking on the flag icon at the bottom of the review. This will alert Yelp that the review does not meet their guidelines.
Google My Business works differently than Yelp and makes it more difficult to flag fake reviews. To report an unsubstantiated review, businesses should post on the Google My Business forum and be prepared to present evidence to prove the review is fake.
By flagging the review, you alert the platform and increase the chances of getting the fake review removed.
2. Always Respond Professionally to Fake Reviews
According to The Manifest, 53% of small businesses respond publicly to negative reviews online – They should do the same for fake reviews.
Not all platforms will remove the fake review. If this is the case, you should treat the fake review as a public relations concern and draft a professional response.
Even if the review is obviously fake, it’s important to draft a response that:
- Acknowledges the review
- Addresses the fact it is fake
- Highlights your business’s commitment to customer service
By addressing the fake review publicly, future consumers reading them will see that you acknowledged it and see that the negative review is unsubstantiated.
3. Contact the Reviewer Directly to Delete or Revise the Review
While you’re drafting the perfect response to the fake review, you can also consider reaching out to the reviewer directly.
Be sure to draft a message that is professional and polite but also asks they remove the review.
As a business dealing with a fake review, it can seem like a personal attack but it’s important to not take a defensive tone in any correspondence and maintain a professional tone.
Businesses Should Strategically Manage Fake Online Reviews
Fake online reviews are becoming more common and something every business should prepare to face. It’s important to remember that negative reviews can impact a business’s visibility in search engine results pages and should never be ignored.
By incorporating fake online review management in their public relations and crisis communications strategies, small businesses can prepare and manage fake reviews before they can do lasting damage to their brand.
Think that your business’s SEO is being hindered from fake reviews, or have more questions? We encourage you to reach out to Anvil’s season team of experts.