They have the potential to make or break a business. And according to new research from reputation experts, Igniyte, malicious reviews and comments are now a major commercial concern for British firms – costing one in five up to £30,000 a year.
The Business of Reviews report reveals that half (51%) have been directly affected by negative content and trolling in the last year alone – and the problem is getting worse.
A further one in six (17%) think unfair negative posts could destroy their enterprise completely.
In the week that Amazon and Yelp launched legal challenges against American ‘fake review’ sites, here in the UK, 76% of business owners say they’re concerned about the influence of malicious postings on new generation, third party review sites – where consumers are prompted to report ‘bad’ service.
One in three of the 1,000 people questioned (34%) say these types of posts are growing in influence, with eight percent thinking they’ll be even more of a problem to their business in future.
As a result managers are making online review and reputation strategies a priority.
Firms are paying more attention to digital conversations than ever, spending an average eight hours each week monitoring activity. They expect that figure to rise this year with one in five (19%) planning to allocate 20 hours to monitoring from now on.
Only a carefree 18% don’t pay any attention to negative reviews or trolls.
For most, tackling negative content and building a more robust online reputation is now a business essential and a key area of investment.
Last year, 30% of the 1,000 UK companies quizzed admitted spending £20,000 dealing with the fallout from these kinds of postings, while another 18% invested £30,000 trying to put things right.
They’re allocating additional resource to keep up this year, with 23% budgeting £10,000 and a third planning to spend £20,000.
And while almost one in four (22%) have created a specific in-house online reviews manager, and a fifth are working on an online review strategy, another 25% have called on a specialist agency for help.
An aggrieved 24% have even been forced to follow Amazon’s and Yelp’s example and take legal action – challenging or removing content altogether.
A further, confused 14% of business leaders are keen to get help but don’t know how to go about it.
Speaking about the research, Igniyte’s Managing Partner, Caroline Skipsey, says, “Used properly, review sites and forums are a force for good – giving consumers a much needed voice.”
“But while businesses of all kinds welcome the opportunity to gather feedback, a growing number are falling victim to unjustified negative content online and the effect can be devastating.
“Many companies feel helpless but there are ways to put things right. We work with clients to create the kind of strong online reputations that can withstand this type of unjustified negativity, while in some situations our legal teams can challenge and remove content on behalf of companies, executives and individuals.”
“Unfortunately this isn’t a problem that is going to go away – for modern businesses, developing an effective strategy for dealing with online reviews is a must.”
*Polling was conducted by One Poll in February 2015 and gathered the views of 1,000 business owners and higher decision makers across the UK.