Recover from reputational crisis

The news of a new app – ‘Peeple’ – which allows any person to review another person has unsurprisingly caused uproar on social media. Nevertheless, it has strongly highlighted the influential role that reviews are coming to play in everyday life.

‘Peeple’ app

The Guardian reported that a new app called ‘Peeple,’ allows users to assign a star rating of between one and five of other human beings. In other words it’s a “Yelp for human beings,” which allows you to “reference check” other people.

Writing on the service’s website, its Canadian founders explained: “Peeple is an app that allows you to rate and comment about the people you interact with in your daily lives on the following three categories: personal, professional, and dating.”

If someone decides to leave a particularly negative review of you on Peeple, you have 48 hours to “work it out with the user” before the post goes live.

Expressing outrage

Understandably, people were outraged by the release of the app and took to social media sites to vent their anger. Some reactions were very witty – with Forbes highlighting that many users took to mocking the new app, especially as it doesn’t allow people to opt out.

Twitter reactions included Mike Drucker’s “#Peeple: Because everyday life should be a horrifying minefield” and Sara Schafer’s “this is definitely how I want to spend my time. What a nightmare. #Peeple.” Summing up the “benefits” of people, Mickey Fischer noted that “I don’t even need the app – if you sign up for and use #Peeple to rate other human beings, I instantly know you’re a horrible person.”

Impact on online reputation

Users argued that Peeple has the ability to damage reputations. This was refuted by the app’s founders. According to Wired, they wrote: “Peeple will enhance your online reputation for access to better quality networks, top job opportunities, and promote more informed decision making about people.”

Yet quite obviously, Peeple has the potential to damage online reputation as much as enhance it. From TripAdvisor to Glassdoor – which allows you to rate your employers and employees – companies and individuals are battling to build and sustain a positive reputation online.

Consumers trust reviews

Consumers are increasingly coming to place their trust in online review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. A 2014 Bright Local poll indicated that 88% of consumers now see online reviews as sources of information that are as trustworthy as personal recommendations.

It’s likely that the same level of influence will apply when potential employers, customers or even dates are looking at your reviews online. So what happens when someone with a personal vendetta posts a scathing review of you online? If the Peeple site ranks highly, it could show on the first page of results when someone Google’s your name.

Our research found that over half of UK businesses have been affected by a malicious or unsubstantiated online review or comment. Reviews have the potential to seriously damage a company, so what will they do to people?

Handling effect of reviews

If users leave harsh reviews about you on Peeple or other review sites, they could cast aspersions on your personal and professional character, damaging your reputation online. You need to take steps to protect your online reputation from unwanted reviews. Here are several measures you should implement to handle the effect of reviews:

  • Develop online assets: If you want to blunt the effect of reviews, don’t give them the chance to rank on the first page of a Google search for your name. Build, optimise and regularly update digital assets to ensure you insulate the first page of a Google search for your name against reviews.
  • Report unsubstantiated reviews: Review sites have their own reputations to protect. Therefore in some cases you might be able to report an unsubstantiated review and get it taken down. You should always try reporting the review to the site’s moderator first before pursuing other options. 
  • Launch a legal challenge: If a review includes inaccurate, defamatory or abusive language about you, you don’t have to take it lying down. You may be able to launch a legal challenge against the reviewer or the review platform in order to get the unwanted content taken down; a route Igniyte has the legal expertise to advise you on.
  • Take it offline: The best defence is a good offence. You should ensure that both your personal and professional conduct in the real world is unquestionable. That way you’ll inspire people to leave positive reviews, drowning out unwanted content.