How to Respond to Negative or Fake Online Reviews

How to Respond to Negative or Fake Online Reviews

Many communities work hard to build their reputation through honesty, and they are thrilled when they receive positive reviews for their services and facilities. However, some are unpleasantly surprised by negative reviews, and they don’t quite know how to respond in such situations.

Many negative reviews may be planted at the behest of a competitor, and determining the authenticity of such reviews can be challenging. In order to deal with negative or fake online reviews, you need to be able to identify them first.

Dangers that Negative or Fake Online Reviews Pose

An online review is akin to word-of-mouth praise or criticism – people tend to trust such reviews way more than what a community says about itself. In fact:

  • More than 80% of consumers tend to trust online reviews as much as they would trust a recommendation through a personal contact
  • Nearly 80% of consumers have stumbled across a fake review in the past 12 months without being able to identify their credibility
  • More than 90% found themselves convinced after reading an online review that led them to disregard a brand1

While fake online reviews can be fairly convincing, the good news is that they can be spotted through a simple strategy. And while negative reviews can hurt your community, you can still initiate a countermeasure. Also, remember that being positive in a negative situation is likely to beat fake reviews hands down. Therefore, it’s important to keep your cool when you come across a negative review that you know has been posted out of sheer malice.

How to Identify a Needlessly Negative or Fake Online Review

Watch out for the following red flags on the negative review you have received:

  • Hostile tone. It’s unlikely for even a genuine negative review to have a hostile tone.
  • Generalized or sweeping criticism. A key indicator of a fake review is non-specific criticism.
  • Positive reviews from the same individual on a competitors’ profiles. This may also be a clue that the fake reviewer is associated with a competitor.
  • Multiple positive reviews within a short time span. This is a number one indication that the reviewer has attempted to influence customer opinions hastily.

How to Counter Negative or Fake Online Reviews

There are two things that you need to do after spotting what you may deem as a fake online review. The first thing is to counter it positively, especially if it’s on your any of your online assets, such as your website.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • You must maintain a professional stature. Always exude professionalism and use a polite tone that shows that you are in control.
    • Here’s how you may choose to respond:
      • Address the Reviewer
      • Thank the reviewer
      • Apologize/sympathize
      • Offer an explanation and promise to take greater care (if required)
      • Offer further communication to improve things and show that you do care
  • Let your followers know about the problem by sharing it with them. Transparency goes a long way.
  • Hit back intelligently. After an initial polite response, you can mitigate damage with a slew of positive ones.

Generating positive reviews is not only a strong solution to combat any negative reviews, but it’s a critical digital marketing strategy to increase leads for your community. It’s not always easy to garner positive reviews online, but having a strategy in place to ask residents and their families for reviews with a turnkey solution to get them posted online is important for your community.

The second thing is to get the negative or fake review removed as quickly as you possibly can by reporting it. If you have a monitoring system in place to be alerted when a new review is posted, you can more effectively take action.

Below is some information regarding how you can report fake online reviews whether they are spotted on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or anywhere else. For each of these platforms, there is a means of submitting reports, and they’re designed to be implemented conveniently.

Reporting a Negative or Fake Review on Yelp

With Yelp, you will first locate the review in the Reviews section, and then proceed to click on Report Review, where you will select the Violation Type. When you’re done reporting the review, you will be able to see the status of the report by hovering over the flag icon.

Reporting a Negative or Fake Review on Facebook

On Facebook, click on the icon in the top right corner of the review, and then click on Report Post, and select the categories of violation.

Reporting a Negative or Fake Review on Google

With regard to reviews made on Google, the user’s username/ID can be traced, and you will be able to see wherever the individual has posted reviews.

When you spot a negative or fake review on Google, place your cursor over the user’s ID, and you will soon see a flag icon appear. When you click on this icon, a violation page will open up, where you will be able to enter your email address and select a violation type that you need to report. If Google does not remove the review, you can also approach a Google support associate.

Go to your Google My Business Dashboard, and click on Reviews. Select ‘Support’ and attach a screenshot of the review you need to report as well as any other evidence that supports your claim. If you still don’t get a response soon enough, you can tweet the Google support team to alert them.

Most online platforms that have any worthy traffic will have a user-friendly means of reporting a negative or fake review. Thankfully, most of them take action as soon as possible based on the defined rules and regulations which are governed by law.

As you work to improve your communities online reputation, keep in mind that fake or negative reviews are bound to happen. It’s important to be prepared for them by having a strategy in place that helps you be aware of the review immediately, respond appropriately, and generate more positive reviews to combat any negative ones. Goldn can help you along the way. Call (888) 482-6691 or email [email protected] to learn more.