Online reviews are inextricably linked to your brand’s reputation, visibility and success.
Consumers want to find the best goods and services with minimal effort, so they turn to the experiences of others to inform their purchasing decisions. According to the Spiegel Research Center, in 2017, approximately 95 percent of potential customers took the time to peruse reviews of various businesses. Search engines like Google know how important reviews are, so businesses with lots of reviews tend to rank higher as well.
As a marketing professional, you want to increase online reviews to both attract more business and show up in more online searches. But not every review you receive will be glowing. Negative reviews, especially in large numbers, can cost your brand considerably. There are, however, ways to leverage bad reviews to improve brand reputation and operations.
Negative reviews from upset customers with real concerns are one thing; fake, malicious or inappropriate reviews are another issue entirely.
This latter category of criticism can be even more damaging to a brand’s image, sowing disinformation, stirring up controversy and harming a company’s search engine rankings.
Fortunately, the major review platforms like Google and Facebook offer remediation services to remove reviews that violate their terms of service. However, these processes are not fully automated, meaning you often have to report a suspicious review to have it taken down. So, to protect your brand from attacks or spam, you should know about each platform’s rules.
The world’s leading search engine, Google, outlines 10 types of restricted content in their terms and conditions that apply to all formats, including reviews. These include:
- Spam and fake content
- Restricted content
- Illegal content
- Terrorist content
- Sexually explicit content
- Offensive content
- Dangerous & derogatory content
- Conflict of interest
For the most part, Google’s detection algorithm will automatically remove reviews that fall into any of these categories. Of course, some of these violations are more explicit and obvious than others, such as spam and derogatory language. Others, like off-topic reviews and impersonators, can be more difficult for Google to track.
This is where brand reputation monitoring services come into play. By receiving notifications when new reviews appear, you can browse all reviews and report any that seem fraudulent or in violation of Google’s policies.
Be sure to carefully read both the review and Google’s policies before flagging it, however. Even if you think a review is fake or in bad faith, Google has no way of determining the validity of certain circumstances. In many cases, you may simply have to respond to the review as if it were real, regardless of the truth.
In addition to Google’s general content guidelines, it also features measures to prevent businesses from removing or hiding negative reviews, reviewing their own business, soliciting positive reviews or negatively reviewing competitors to bolster their own brand.
These protections help consumers trust that the reviews they see are authentic. This ultimately benefits your brand as well, as positive reviews become that much more reliable, and negative reviews give you an opportunity to reach out to your customers and improve your business.
Like Google, Facebook also enforces community standards, which lays out the types of content and reviews not allowed on the platform, including:
- Sexually suggestive content
- Hate speech, credible threats or direct attacks on an individual or group
- Content that contains self-harm or excessive violence
- Fake or impostor profiles
Facebook will usually not automatically remove these malicious or inappropriate reviews. As a business owner or marketing analyst, you must take action and report this content to Facebook directly.
If Facebook deems the review fake or egregious, it may still take a few days or more for it to leave your brand’s page. Facebook users and consumers can also play a role in decontaminating the review landscape by reporting product reviews that are irrelevant to the business or violate community standards.
If you wish, you can also disable reviews on Facebook. However, previous reviews will still remain online, just hidden from your page. It is not recommended that you block reviews, as this will harm your online presence, cut your brand off from the community, prevent you from valuable insights, and suggest to consumers that you may be covering up information.
Consumers will find out about your business one way or another, so it is best to remain transparent on Facebook and keep the gate open for all reviews.
Healthcare Review Platforms
In addition to monitoring reviews on Facebook and Google, healthcare marketers must also audit comments received on sites like Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc, each of which has its own guidelines regarding review content.
For instance, to ensure that reviews are constructive, honest, and relevant, Healthgrades requires a verification process prior to posting a review on its site. This guards against inflammatory, misleading or false content.
To safeguard against false reviews, ZocDoc implements a “closed-loop system” that ensures all reviews are solely written by real patients who have received real care. That said, users within the system can still post inappropriate reviews, so ZocDoc will not publish any that violate its guidelines. Profanity, personal information: pricing specifics, and promotional content are strictly prohibited.
In addition to these three, several other healthcare review platforms exist and feature their own terms and conditions. Healthcare reputation management services are the best way for healthcare marketers to keep track of reviews across all platforms and detect whether any might be fake or in violation of a given site.
Your brand will likely receive its share of positive and negative reviews, and perhaps some fake ones as well. Online reputation management services will help you find every review out there so you can gain valuable insights while protecting your brand from harm.
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist