It is simply not an option for a business to exist today without any sort of online reputation. The benefit of spending time and money on establishing and maintaining one’s online reputation is that a business can reach more prospective customers. The downside is, of course, that there are bound to be negative reviews or attacks at some point along the line. Honest negative feedback, wherein real customers have real issues with the business’ products or services, can be addressed through rapid, honest and compassionate responses. Smear campaigns are a different thing entirely, as they are designed to destroy your business’ reputation thoroughly, and therefore have to be handled differently.
There are a few things you can do to maintain your online reputation amid a smear campaign, including:
- Avoid a counter-attack smear campaign. Unfortunately, fighting fire with fire can only cause more damage, so avoid getting drawn into a public counter-attack smear campaign.
- Focus on improving your business SEO, so that when someone searches for your business, they are presented with positive or at least neutral information. Create social media profiles and share links that lead back to your business website.
- Promote the positives of your business to help push back the negatives. Run searches for your business name, and variations of it, and find links to stories that reflect positively on your business. Link to these stories through your website, your blog, your social media profiles and any other places you can to spread positive news about your business.
- Document abusive and defamatory content, and report it to site owners as appropriate. Many sites have policies regarding such content, and will flag to review or even remove the content and block the poster.
- Consider taking legal action against the website being posted to, or the poster if you can positively identify them. This can cost you a lot of time and money, so this is something you need to carefully consider before undertaking.