It seems these days that nearly everyone is a content producer, from reviews on Yelp and Google+ and even blog comments on your company’s website. While the web can be a great way to connect with your customers and hear their opinions, reviews can also be a Pandora’s Box of bad publicity. Proceed carefully and read on for some of the most common pitfalls as well as possible solutions for tempering bad press.
Strong Arm Solicitation
Yelp and Google+ are wonderful tools for small businesses looking to establish themselves through user created photos and reviews. It can be tempting to solicit reviews from your pleased customers, but resist the urge. Pushing too hard for a positive review can actually backfire, leading to a negative review about your pushiness. Instead, keep references to review sites light, casual, and unobtrusive in your newsletters, blogs, and social media posts. Obviously you want to alert your customers to your presence, and this can be a hard balance to strike. Consider hiring a freelance writer to work in some subtle, pleasant persuasion to net your small business some positive reviews.
Is There Such a Thing as “Bad” Publicity?
In a word: yes. But fortunately, you’re the one in control. Bad reviews online are par for the course for the small business owner, but your response to these reviews is what can make or break your business. Don’t attack customers on a review site, no matter how inaccurate, petty, or rude their comments seem. If you’re really upset, don’t respond at all and leave the work to a neutral content writer who can handle your written responses with aplomb. Stay professional and respectful, and make sure your response includes a clear solution for the problem cited. Being proactive, graceful, and responsive can actually gain you more fans than foes in the long run.
Similarly, if you have a blog linked to your company’s website, you run the risk of a few rude boors hijacking a post with negative comments. Take firm action and immediately delete any posts that are offensive or derogatory, but encourage respectful discussion and even participate as needed to propose solutions and show that you’re clearly in charge of your business’ cyber space. if you don’t have time to immediately handle it, simply suspend the comment function until you can address the issue.
The Perils of Product Reviews
Many online shoppers rely on product reviews to make their decisions, but sometimes reviews can reflect poorly on your business. Try to respond to all negative comments in a professional manner, and remember to keep a sense of humor about the whole process. Thanks to the whims of the Internet zeitgeist, reviews have become an off brand of sarcastic humor; consider yourself lucky if your product is on the receiving end of viral-worthy humorous reviews.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.