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We have put together a timeline of a mass spam event with guidelines on how to ensure the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.
If there is one thing anyone with a computer or handheld device actively tries to avoid, it’s spam. Whether it’s our emails or our social feeds; the flashy, attention-seeking content is often met with glossed-over eyes as we have learned to ignore it all. Businesses, on the other hand, have another type of spam that can’t be ignored - reputation sabotage, also known as review spam.
Just as the name implies, this specific type of spam attempts to destroy one of the most valuable assets to any business in the modern world - its online reputation. Whether it’s bots, spammers or people with ill-intent leaving phony Google reviews, this type of spam can harm your reputation when not handled properly.
If you are paying close attention to your reviews on your Google Business Profile and social media pages, a spam pattern will be easy to spot. It won’t look like your everyday negative feedback that businesses often find helpful. As the negative spam reviews increase, your 5-star rating will start to plummet. Be cognizant of what these complaints are detailing. It is very possible you are experiencing a spam event if:
Something to think about: Not all bad reviews are spam. Negative reviews are a part of any business. It is best practice to ensure that the complaint in each valid review is addressed as soon as possible. This shows your customer base that you are accountable and willing to improve your services.
If the main trigger of your spam event links back to a negative interaction with a single customer, it is worth trying to take things offline and resolving the issue with them directly. Timing is everything when assisting an unhappy customer. We recommend reaching out via phone or email and offering a solution as soon as the concern is brought to your attention. Online review management services are a growing resource for businesses. Engaging with your customers within a 24-hour time frame can help avoid a spam situation altogether.
Once it’s confirmed that you are dealing with review spam, it is time for you and your team to report each review. Guidelines and reporting differ from site to site, but if the review falls under their violations, the review will be deleted. These platforms have listed what their policies are and how to report a review:
The more employees report the review, the more likely it will be taken down.
Something to think about: Each of these platforms celebrates its customer’s right to free speech and will not get involved with minor disputes. It’s best to only report reviews if they are in clear violation of the site’s policy.
If the review spam reaches across multiple platforms, monitoring will prove difficult. A central feed of reviews controlled by an assigned team makes it easier for you to take control of the situation. (Hint: Widewail provides this solution - request a demo today!)
Something to think about: Widewail always recommends responding to reviews, positive or negative. Just in case the reported reviews are not removed, you should definitely respond publicly. Questions on how to respond to negatives? We’ve got you.
Review spam can sabotage a business’s online reputation. That’s why we recommend keeping close tabs on your review platforms so that you can spot spam reviews early. If you’ve identified review spam, the first step should be trying to reach out offline. Once you’re confident that the reviews are spam, you and your team should report them. Monitor your sites to see if the reviews are removed and if they aren’t, respond.
I started with Widewail's Review Response team in early spring of 2021. While I'm a New Hampshire native, Vermont has irrevocably stolen my heart. My husband and I decided to pack up our rescue dog and two cats and move to the Green Mountain State to spend more time wake surfing, skiing, and cold-water swimming. Fun fact: I volunteer for a local non-profit in my hometown that is helping update our local skatepark for the younger generations of skateboarders!
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