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If you participate in online forums, you may see a negative posting about your company. In fact, some forum participants can get downright nasty, even saying things that are completely untrue.
Now, since you’re sitting right there at the keyboard while reading these posts, your first reaction may be to shoot off a response to set the record straight and protect your online reputation — and possibly get into a back-and-forth “discussion” that can quickly turn into the online equivalent of mud wrestling.
Before you respond to the forum posting, stop and consider this.
First, are you really going to change anyone’s mind with your rebuttal? If it’s a site where people just come to complain, or if it’s a forum participant who simply gets joy out of bashing others online, chances are there’s nothing that can get these people to change — expect maybe a few years of therapy.
And if it’s a competitor writing these posts, you’re not going to win them over to your side no matter what. They don’t care about your online reputation.
Second, every time you or anyone posts to one of these sites, you’re just improving their search engine ranking. Why? Because you’re giving the site new content, and the search engines tend to rank sites higher that have constantly updated content.
In other words, posting your rebuttal on that particular website actually helps the negative posts gain more visibility. That makes it more likely that a potential customer will find the site, read the negative comments, and decide not to do business with you. Like scoring an “own goal” in soccer, you’ve only helped the other side by responding to a negative forum post, which is not good reputation management strategy.
So what can you do?
Well, you can grumble a little, complain to your co-workers, kick the garbage can, and curse these poor souls who would dare to malign your wonderful products and services. Then take a breath and relax. There are better and more subtle ways to fight back.
This generally involves getting positive sites about your company to rank higher so the negative sites are pushed further down in the search engine rankings, where fewer people will see them.
Just keep in mind that a long-term strategy to boost your company’s online image is better than direct confrontation — no matter how mad you may feel about the negative postings. This is what true online reputation management is all about.