And what does it mean for your business?

What some miss is the threat to their reputation and even their entire livelihood that can come through social and online platforms through negative reviews, feedback or even outright hacking attacks. 

Metro Bank is a new “challenger” bank that is trying to break into an established and congested market place. They’ve had some successes and setbacks but these were exacerbated last year with false rumours spread on social media that they’d run out of money and advising customers to withdraw their deposits in full, immediately. 

After a few days of chaos and negative headlines, they were able to deny the story and recover their operations but not every company is so lucky.

Recovering from a social media assault can be an expensive business. A survey of decision makers found that some of them were spending as much as £30,000 a year on overcoming negative online interactions. 

If this sounds a lot, bear in mind that 75% of respondents said that online reviews were very important to their financial and reputational status and one in six of them thought that unfair negative posts could even destroy their company completely. The stakes are that high for some. 

Build a firewall – what can a company do?

There are some options that companies can take. Online specialists can manipulate search engine algorithms to “bury” negative online posts and stories to the second or third page of results which is effectively digital Siberia. 

Negative reviews can be counteracted by a flood of positive new ones so companies will start encouraging all customers to leave positive ones as an insurance and a counterweight to the negative ones. 

There’s also legal action to consider but it can be expensive, time consuming and ultimately run into the sophistry and the vague arbitrary notion of responsibility that internet publishers cling to. 

Google, for example, respond to actual court orders to remove defamatory postings but it does not want to have to remove the alleged offending content without them arguing that they shouldn’t be the arbiter of what is or isn’t defamatory.

They said: “Google LLC is not well placed to do this. A mandatory takedown procedure could lead to virtually all negative content being removed from the internet, including useful negative content, such as whistleblowing, business reviews and investigative journalism.”

Fortunately UK companies have an additional layer of defence against online attacks – good, old-fashioned British cynicism. 

Britons have the lowest level of trust in information on social media in the developed world with just 12% of respondents saying that they trusted this information against 83% who said they didn’t.   

Possibly related, 60% of respondents to the same survey also backed increased regulation of those same social media companies, possibly as a result of the Cambridge Analytica revelations and other scandals.  

So there is always the possibility that customers will just ignore negative reviews or classify them as “fake news”. 

Reliance on reviews

Contrary to this, in 2014, 53% of UK diners used Tripadvisor before visiting a restaurant and we’d speculate that this figure has now grown further. A run of negative reviews can therefore force a restaurant out of business and into company liquidation.

It’s important if you receive negative reviews to manage them and take notice of what is being said and respond to reviews accordingly to avoid liquidation. Some of these responses have been known to go viral and hit the press, providing free marketing for your business.

If your business suddenly runs into trouble online or IRL (In Real Life), get in touch with one of our expert advisers. 

You can do it through email, online chat, social media, telephone, post or come and knock on our door. Whatever way you choose, we can use your free initial consultation to identify the source of your problems and what you can do to fix them and successfully reboot your business. 

If we think you can’t, we’ll tell you and be able to help you close down with a minimum of fuss and stress so you can move onto your next challenge.