Type your company’s name (and heck, even your name) into Google. What did you find? A lot of great comments and reviews? If so, you are much more than just lucky. Your brand is obviously very strong and you must have an excellent reputation for doing things right.
If there are some scathing comments, don’t be shocked – you’re not alone. There are plenty of conversations taking place among customers and employees about brands that aren’t particularly flattering. And in some cases, there are some downright nasty things people are saying about brands and their experiences with them.
For quite a long time, the Internet has been the place where people could hide behind anonymity and say things about people and brands they would never say in person. For this reason, there is nothing holding anyone back from making disparaging claims and comments, many of which are typically over-exaggerated and at times completely false.
Unfortunately, people reading such comments online don’t always know, or can’t always tell, the difference between fact and fiction.
If you feel your brand is being unfairly bullied or harassed online, consider the recommendations and thoughts below to better defend yourself.
- Monitor your brand through Google and social media searches to determine what, if anything is being said about your brand. If you fail to do this, you’ll never know if there is an online conversation taking place that has spiraled out of control. Those who bully brands expect a reaction, and if you do not react (because you’re not monitoring your brand online), people can only assume you are hiding because the negative claims are true.
- Identify the reason your brand has become a victim of bullying. It could be as simple as a seemingly insignificant incident that got blown out of proportion, a customer who feels s/he was treated unfairly, or it could be something much more severe like failing to fix a serious ongoing customer problem.
- Whether or not the nefarious comment or criticism about you or your brand is true, respond professionally with an apology and an invitation to take the conversation offline to remedy the perceived problem. This will show the online community that you are genuinely interested in making things right with your customers. If you are able to turn things around and fix the problem, the customer may agree to remove his or her comment. This strategy would also apply to current or former employees who lash out against your brand.
- Do not reduce yourself to engaging in an argument online. This will only fan the flames of criticism and turn it into a war you cannot win. Unfortunately, there are more people who will take delight in “ganging up” against you than defending you. How do I know? When was the last time you saw anyone other than employees of the targeted brand come to its defense online?
- Depending on the source, sometimes no response is best. Every once in a while, you may see an isolated criticism by someone who clearly doesn’t know what s/he is talking about, that is so ridiculous or is so poorly (or immaturely) written that the comment doesn’t merit a response. When comments seem childish or are filled with vulgarity, most intelligent and logical minds will ignore and dismiss.
No matter how upset or angry you become when you see someone bullying your brand, always, no matter what, take the higher road by keeping the communication professional. If you let your emotions get the best of you, the people who bullied you will win.