Four Strategies to Handle Fake Online Reviews

Have you ever been shocked by a bad review about your business? It’s like being told your boutique’s new Christmas sweater collection is boring. That means it’s not just a bad review…it’s a fake review (because let’s face it, your bedazzled holiday knits are anything but boring.)

Fake reviews can damage your brand’s reputation. When customers read a bad review, they are less likely to purchase your brand or service. You may be tempted to reply to malicious reviews, but in the long run this can cause even more damage. Managing bad reviews shows customers your character, so choose your strategies wisely. Read below for four ways to handle fake online reviews and don’t let your online reputation suffer any longer.

Strategy #1: Make Sure the Review Isn’t True

Are you or your business the victim of fake online reviews? Not all negative reviews are lies. Some may come from disgruntled or unhappy customers or even past employees. Your method of managing bad reviews depends on whether or not they are fake. Do your homework to make sure you are dealing with a fake review before you take action.

There are many ways you can spot a fake online review. Real negative reviews will mention specific examples about your products or services, i.e.: “The reindeer sweater runs small.”

On the other hand, fake reviews are usually vague, use uncommon language and make repeated mentions of specific brands, products or labels, i.e.: “Your Christmas sweaters are ugly. Try the Pretty Pullover Palace instead.” Pay attention to review sites driven by user-generated content. Many of these reviews are fake, and the only way you can stop them is to take a proactive approach.

Strategy #2: Report the Fake Review

Now if you are sure your sweaters are beautiful and the review is fake, it’s time to report. For Google fake online reviews, simply click on the flag icon under the review title. This will bring up a page to report the violation. However, Google is inconsistent when it comes to removing fake reviews. This is because it’s hard to prove someone’s online identity. This is particularly difficult because Google permits anonymous usernames. In addition, a person does not need to make a purchase to review your brand.

Strategy #3: Answering Reviews

Should you answer reviews? The short answer is yes and no. If the review was real, post a response as soon as possible. Apologize, thank them for their feedback and promise to learn from their negative critique in the future. You can also offer to contact them offline to give them some sort of deal or discount. At this point, they may agree to delete the negative comment. Remember, for real reviews time is of the essence. Immediately address customer service complaints, product failures and other business-related issues. This kind of response may lead customers to give more positive reviews in the future.

However, responding to the fake review has two different schools of thought.

  1. The first one is, do not respond. Not even once. You don’t want to draw any attention to the review or yourself. Simply report it immediately and wait. Over time, the review will be drowned out. And you will, once again, be a sweater sensation.
  2. The second strategy is to respond quickly. If you decide to respond to the fake review after reporting it, make your response professional. It will help other potential clients side with you. Also, they will be more willing to conduct business in the future. Let your customer commitment and professionalism shine through. Do not ever use profanity, aggressive words or threats or name-calling. These responses do not belong on public third-party review sites

Strategy #4: Don’t Retaliate

Although fake reviews may upset you, do not retaliate. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Calling your competitor’s sweater collection out for poor quality (even if it’s true) doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, you might end up in trouble yourself. If you take revenge on your competitor, they may feel threatened and the online “bullying” could escalate.

If your business is solid and truthful, then the consistently positive reviews will dilute any fake online reviews damaging your online reputation. Don’t lower your ethical standards because someone wants to play dirty. Remain diligent and your hard work will pay off.

Take Control of Your Reputation Management

Spammers, competitors and unhappy customers may try to damage your business’s reputation with fake reviews. Unfortunately, fake online reviews can be difficult to remove. How you respond and how soon you respond is paramount. You must take action and remain vigilant in order to protect your online reputation. Your response is not just for the reviewer. Keep in mind each time you respond, you benefit a wider audience.

When you are positive your new sweater collection is unfairly under attack, there are many strategies you can use to reduce the damage, but all require immediate action. Gather all the facts so you can correct the issue as soon as possible. Then you can go back to growing your company’s reputation. You will do this by increasing positive, honest reviews from your loyal customers.

If you need help with your reputation management or managing bad reviews, contact us. We will manage all of your reviews so you don’t have to!

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