Online Reputation Management – Some Options

Updated May 27, 2015

Doc Sheldon

Reputation management is best handled by never letting your business get in a position where someone goes out of their way to speak badly of it. But sometimes, it happens. What do you do then?

What to Do About it?

Stepping past the obvious first solution, which is to avoid it altogether by being proactive, let’s assume it’s already happened. An irate customer has started posting negative remarks about your business on various social media platforms and review sites. The first step is:

Step up

If you ignore him or delete his comments where possible, you are both adding credence to his claims and painting yourself as an uncaring business entity. So step up. Just as in martial arts, you can use your opponent’s own force against him. Ask about the problem, give honest consideration to a fair solution and make a reasonable offer of reconciliation.

HoneyRemember the old saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar? Now is a perfect time to be nice. Treat them like you would want to be treated.

If he refuses your offer, and it was a fair one, you have (a) made an honest effort toward a resolution and (b) shown the others that are reading that you’ve been reasonable and fair. Just like his disparaging remarks, that will be on the internet forever, too.

If he takes a tough stance, maintaining an unreasonable demand, the audience will recognize that. You may be surprised how often they’ll come to your company’s defense in such a situation.

It’s also important to remember that most people who’ll go out of their way to attack a brand or a person will do so on many fronts. Just because you may have put the issue to bed on Facebook doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also check Twitter, Google+, Yelp, and other social media and review sites for similar threads. If you find more, rather than opening another discussion, simply respond by citing a link to the original thread.

Bury it

This approach isn’t often very successful, but in some circumstances, it’s the only avenue open to you. If you can acquire enough positive comments, testimonials and reviews, you may be able to push the negative items down in search so that they’re less visible.

As stated, this is not easily done, and it’s also not as effective as defusing the negative comments individually. But be very careful, as it’s obvious to even a casual observer when 20 or 30 positive comments begin to appear over a short period of time , right after a negative comment is posted. That can do your brand more harm than the original unflattering comments.

You may also find it very difficult to outrank such comments on sites as strong as Product Review, Choice or Yelp.


Another tactic is to approach the individual making the complaint with a very reasonable offer to resolve the conflict. Be sincerely apologetic, extend your offer and if they accept graciously, you might offer to sweeten the offer a bit if they’d consider deleting their negative comments. This would work best on review platforms that allow complaint originators to remove their reviews… on your Facebook page, others might very well suspect that you deleted it, thus putting your reputation in a worse light.

Some platforms will allow users to modify the ratings they’ve left, and this is often the best approach. If the user adds a comment to their complaint, stating that it has been satisfactorily resolved, and changes it from say, a one-star to a four-star rating, this will often have a more favorable impact on other users. If the star rating can’t be updated, then removal would be preferable.

Never make removal or modification of a complaint a condition for resolving an issue, as this can backfire on you – simply ask them if they would be willing to do so. If you’ve done a good job of resolving their problem, most will be willing to let others know they were treated well.

Get Over it

This shouldn’t be taken to mean “ignore it”… that would be the worst possible decision. Just keep this in mind:

Every business makes mistakes… most consumers will understand and forgive that, provided the business makes things right when it happens (and it doesn’t happen repeatedly).

However, once you’ve handled the situation to the best of your ability, there’s nothing more you can do, except ensure it doesn’t happen again. So get on with business and don’t dwell on it. Above all, protect your reputation!

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Doc Sheldon

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