Social media reviews.

Social media reviews.

Online reviews, how do you deal with them? What are the legalities around them, And especially as a business owner, what should you do if you get a bad one? 

Well, firstly, it’s important to differentiate between what’s a bad review and a fake review. A fake review could be a malicious competitor, saying things about your product, if they never bought your product, they never used your services. Or it could be a genuine review, but still abusive. With those kinds of reviews, the first thing you should do is report it to the social media platform. So if it happened on Facebook, report to Facebook, if it happened on Twitter, report to Twitter. If it happens on another site, like on your website, I’ve actually disabled comments on my blog, on my website because, you get people online who have got nothing better to do. 

It wasn’t reviews that they were posting on my site, it was just really strange and inappropriate comments, so I don’t allow comments on my site. If you have a problem with reviews on your site, you can set it up so that a review has to be approved by somebody first before it gets posted. But then you get things like Google reviews and which is much less monitored. So what can you do in response?

You do have the option of ignoring it, but personally, as a business owner, that’s not my first choice. My first choice is always to respond, respond with a very cool head. Don’t get into name calling, because if you get into name calling, you could be head up for defamation. If you think the review is untrue and you call them a liar and that ruins their reputation, they can sue you for defamation. Yes, I understand that truth is a defense to defamation, but only in some territories and in some states, not in every country and not in every state. So even if what you’re saying is true, you could still be up for defamation, and it’s just not a good look. 

You don’t come across as a nice person that people would want to work with. So if somebody has really got you frustrated, and got you upset with a review, perhaps leave it for a few days, get somebody else to help draft a response. Never attack them personally, always focus on the service of the goods. For example if they say they came to your restaurant and the chips weren’t crispy enough, you can be polite. You could say something like the following “thank you for your comments, we’ve taken that on board, we’ve done a bit of quality control, not sure what happened on that particular night, but we would welcome you back.”

That kind of thing makes it an opportunity. Another option is to counteract the review with some positive ones, and so I’m not at all suggesting a fake review, I’m not suggesting that, that is illegal. Don’t go and make up a whole lot of different accounts and then review your own business in a positive manner, no. That is illegal, the HCCC will be coming down on you like a ton of bricks. What I’m suggesting is that you contact some of your trusted clients and you say to them, look, I’m having a rough week. Somebody has done a review on my business, it’s put us in a very bad light, could you please go on and say something nice about us? 

You’re perfectly entitled to do that and chances are your good customers will be happy to do that, perhaps offer to do a review for them in the future. You can’t bribe them to do a good review for them, for you, you can’t say do a good one for me and I’ll do a good one for you. It has to be an honest review, so don’t make it sound like you’re getting them to make things up. 

So that’s it, then leave it and if the person responds and they wanna make an issue of it and they wanna keep going don’t reply anymore. Do one reply, if it’s appropriate invite them to come back to your store, invite them to interact with you further. If it’s not appropriate, you can say, we’re not a good fit, but we have 300 other clients who love our services and we wish you well. So be gracious, don’t insult them and let it go, move on. If you’re in business for any period of time, you are going to have clients that are not 100% satisfied for whatever reason and you are more than likely gonna come across people who are just never satisfied with what you provide.

Which will be the case no matter how much you help them, no matter how much you provide, sometimes they’re after a freebie, you never gonna please everybody all the time. So, be direct, be polite, be succinct, be gracious, get other people to positively review you, and move on. Unless it is something that is really to the level of defamation, in which case I recommend that you do get a lawyer just to have a look at it. It shouldn’t take them too long to give you a quick idea of whether or not it really is, beyond what’s acceptable. Even so, do you want to waste time, money, and effort pursuing somebody through the legal system if all they’ve done is given you silly review? Rather show yourself to be the better person, by responding in an appropriate way, that can actually get people to rally behind you. So good luck, I hope you don’t get too many negative reviews, my name is Cathryn Warburton and I am the legal lioness.

Cathryn Warburton About the author

The Legal Lioness. Overcoming severe bullying as a child instilled in her a passion to protect others. As a skilled litigator, she indulges in her dream to push-back against business-bullies who target her clients. She is an international award-winning lawyer and patent attorney and 5-time published author. Cathryn bullet-proofs her client’s businesses and protects them like a mama lioness protecting her cubs. She makes sure that no business is left without access to affordable, easy-to-understand legal information. She does this through her books, proactive legal workshops and 1-2-1 legal services.