Negative Online Posts About Your Business makes SmithAmundsen Responds
Every business struggles with negative online reviews. Unless the negative post directly violates hosts’ terms-of-use, it’s highly unlikely that the host site (e.g. Yelp, Glassdoor, Instagram, etc.) will remove the post. Host sites like Yelp also are immune from most lawsuits under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act so a lawsuit against those entities isn’t the solution. Best practices for responding to offending posts depends on if the post is just negative or if it’s also defamatory. addressing either style of review requires specializing in minimizing the effect of the post and resisting the urge to reply in a very way that compounds the damage to your reputation. ADDRESSING NEGATIVE REVIEWS Your goal in responding to a negative review is to impress readers together with your responsiveness and a focus to customer service. Your purpose in responding to a negative post isn’t to persuade the post’s author. Do’s and Don’ts of Responding to Negative Reviews: Always answer negative posts and respond quickly; Introduce yourself and address the author by name; Keep your response short (about fifty words); Take the discussion offline by offering to follow up by email or direct message; Do not argue; Do not offer contrary evidence or try to “prove” anything; Do not offer the identical, canned response to each bad review; No sarcasm or attempts at humor. Example of a negative but non-defamatory post: This restaurant has horrible food and worse customer service. – John Example (appropriate) response: Hi John – my name is Jack and that i am this restaurant’s owner. i’m so sorry to listen to about your experience with us and I’d be thrilled to relinquish you a refund and apologize personally. I sent you an on the spot message to find out more about your experience and to undertake to form this right. Thank you. Whoever sees the negative post also will see your prompt, polite response showing that your business takes customer service seriously. If your business doesn’t have many reviews or if a negative review appears prominently, consider encouraging your best customers, friends or family to go away honest (and hopefully, glowing) reviews to supply a more accurate evaluation of your business and to push negative reviews out of the spotlight. CONFRONTING DEFAMATORY POSTS If a post about your business is defamatory, instead of merely negative, you’ve got more options to handle it. Generally, defamation may be a falsity of fact damaging to one’s reputation. Neither opinions nor true statements are actionable as defamation. While our freedom of speech isn’t limited to compliments, false accusations of illegal practices or fraud aren’t protected speech. Example defamatory post: This restaurant owner could be a dirty thief who cheats on his taxes and drinks on the task. Assuming the above statement is fake, it’s potentially defamatory. If you suspect a specific post about you or your business is also defamatory, you must immediately consult an attorney with internet defamation law and reputation management experience. Defamation suits must be brought within one year of publication. If the author’s identity is unknown, it’s possible to subpoena the hosting site or internet service provider for identifying information about the author. Lawsuits are unfortunately, expensive and that they won’t usually provide quick resolution. Often a cease-and-desist letter from an attorney specializing during this area of law to the author of the defamatory post will, however, reach encouraging the voluntarily removal of the post. Cease and desist letters are a low-cost option with the likelihood of quickly resolving this issue. Online reputation management requires diligently monitoring your online presence and responding to negative posts promptly, professionally, and with brevity. to deal with speech harmful to your business, investing in experienced counsel can quickly remove the offending speech and guide a response that permits you to re-focus on your business.