It doesn’t matter where you fall on the political spectrum; one big lesson from the last election cycle – and one thing all of us can agree on – is that you can’t believe everything you see online. But, while the focus has been on politically-charged advertising and editorials recently, the truth is that misinformation can affect businesses of all sizes in major ways.
Usually, this takes the form of competitors making over-the-top claims about their products and services or working to create false stories and reviews about yours.
In small doses, these kinds of lies can be annoying. Let them spread far enough, though, and they can hit your bottom line in a big way. You can never truly appreciate just how quickly fake content spreads on the internet until it involves you or your company.
With that in mind, today’s post is devoted to fighting misinformation by competitors online. Here are a few things you can do to stop dishonest marketers from hurting your sales…
Monitor Reviews and Social Feedback
Many small and medium-sized businesses fail to take advantage of “social listening” tools that monitor the web for mentions of their company, brands, or industry. With a few simple apps, you could keep tabs on everything that is being said about you by customers and colleagues.
The first step towards combating false ads and misinformation is knowing what’s out there in real-time. Social monitoring is a fast and affordable solution to that problem.
Post Lots of Verified (or Verifiable) Content
Negative feedback of any kind, whether it’s legitimate or not, won’t affect your sales if you have hundreds or thousands of positive reviews. That’s why you should do everything you can to encourage happy customers to spread the word about their positive experiences with you on the internet.
Often, buyers are happy to say good things about your business if you ask them directly and let them know how important it is. Whenever possible, have them use their verified social accounts, so other potential customers can see that the feedback is valid.
Reach Out When You Need To
Following the first two steps will help you deal with 95% of all problems pertaining to your company’s online reputation. But what happens when a competitor intentionally and repeatedly spreads misinformation about your business?
At that point, you might have to follow a more strict approach to getting things corrected. First, contact the platform (Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, etc.) and let them know you are seeing reviews or opinions that aren’t accurate. Provide proof or documentation if you can. That will almost always solve the problem, but if it doesn’t, you should consider contacting a lawyer. It might seem excessive, but damage to your online reputation can harm your business in numerous ways, so you can’t afford to let bad information sit on popular websites for months or years.
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