We are being trashed online. Help!
Dear Aunty B,
We run a company in an area of the finance industry that got a bad name in the recession.
We have gone out of our way to let everyone know we are doing things differently and have great things to offer. We are doing social networking, including Facebook and our website forum to encourage open conversation and promote our business. But it's killing me! People are continually writing some awful stuff - not about us specifically but they assume we are tarred with the same brush as some of the cowboys that have left town.
We have to monitor everything and I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle. My husband, who is also my business partner, says he is sick of me worrying about it day and night and that unless I get a thick skin we should kill all social networking.
I want to continue it because it does provide us with very cheap marketing and we get some clients that way but I need a plan. We tried hiring a company that handles online reputation but they did a very bad job and I couldn't contact them half the time when I needed to alert them to something. Help!
The plan is this. When people write nasty things you ask this: Will it hurt my business? If the answer is no, then forget it. Your husband is right. Develop a thick skin. Leave the comment up and maybe reply to it. You have to understand that in the public arena, people have a right to express their views.
If the view is defamatory and going to injure your reputation and it is wrong, then contact the site or person who wrote it asking for it to be removed or tell them you will take action if it is not removed by a certain time. Be prepared to follow up.
In most cases it will be removed, except if it is a mainstream media site where you will most likely be ignored unless you genuinely have a case and they think you are likely to take action, have the funds to take action and it will result in you getting a lot of money.
You may also need to close down your forum until some of the heat goes out of your industry if you think it is damaging your business.
Finally, you should probably try another online reputation company to make sure those comments are not top of Google. It sounds very time consuming for you to be monitoring the web and I am sure you'd be better off spending your time having physical events where you can control the content or webinars with the chat function turned off so you can control the questions and comments.
If I were you I would redo my marketing plan so that I had more control over the message, at least until the heat goes out of your industry.
Your Aunty B