Firms Count Cost of Critical Online Reviews

A study of UK companies finds that more half have suffered malicious reviews or criticism, with bad reviews costing one in five organisations up to £30,000 to put mitigate.

In the poll of 1,000 decision makers, 51% said they had experienced unfair reviews or been targeted by ‘trolls’ posting antagonistic remarks online. They range from posts on review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor to unfounded attacks on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Three in four business owners said that online reviews were important or very important to their financial and reputational status; one in six claimed that unfair negative posts could destroy their business completely.

The research, undertaken by online reputation management firm Igniyte, found that 34% of business owners believe malicious posts were growing in influence.

UK companies are having to spend when dealing with malicious posts to limit reputational damage. While gauging whether a post is ‘unfair’ is subjective, almost 30% spend £11,000 and £20,000 a year and 18% have spent up to £30,000 on their efforts to control malicious online comments, whether through external reputation management agencies, in-house social media managers, or cash spent on legal fees.

Some business owners remain unsure about how to handle unfair comments online, with 14% admitting that they didn’t know how to tackle the problem. Almost a quarter of respondents had resorted to taking legal action in order to remove the offending content.

According to Igniyte, many small firms are allocating budgets to deal with the problem. Twenty-three per cent have set aside £10,000 and 33% have a £20,000 contingency, a rise of 3% on 2014.

However not all UK companies have dealt with malicious reviews, with one in three survey respondents saying that they were unaffected.

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