A report published by Igniyte looks into the real cost of online reviews to businesses in the UK.

Business owners and higher managers from 1,000 companies were surveyed to find out how conversations online were impacting on their businesses financially, but also in terms of reputation. The findings suggest that unsubstantiated reviews and forum posts, trolling and malicious comments online are of increasing concern to companies.

The Business of Reviews Stats

  • 51% of businesses say their company has been affected by unsubstantiated online reviews or targeted by trolls in the last year.
  • 13% feel the problem is getting worse.
  • 14% don’t know how to deal with it.
  • 24% believe they’ve dealt with the issue adequately for now.

Alarmingly, the cost of dealing with online comments and reviews is significant, with nearly a third of companies spending up to £20,000 per year, and almost a fifth spending up to £30,000 on the issue.

75% of businesses quizzed say online reviews, comments and forum posts are important to the financial and reputational status of their business.

Of these:

  • 17% say they can ‘make or break’ a business.
  • 34% believe they are becoming ‘more important’.
  • 24% believe they are ‘not as important’ as other elements of PR & Marketing.

Igniyte supports companies within the UK and globally, helping them to implement review strategies and manage conversations online. Review sites and forums are used widely by consumers and on the whole, their use brings great insight and a measure of opinion online.

However in some instances, feedback is unjustified, defamatory and dated and there is growing concern that some high ranking review sites and forums are used for targeted campaigns against a company or brand. The results of this can be devastating.

Key findings

Of the 1,000 businesses UK businesses surveyed for the report:

  • Over half – 51% – have been directly  affected by online content  in the last 12 months.
  • Three quarters – 75% –  believe online reviews, comments and forum posts are ‘extremely’ important to the financial and reputational status of their business.
  • Over three quarters – 76% – are concerned  about the influence malicious posting on review sites may  have on customers.
  • Almost a third – 30% –  are ‘very’ worried  about unsubstantiated comments on review or forum sites.
  • Over a sixth – 17% – say that online reviews have the potential to destroy a business.
  • Nearly a fifth – 14% – of businesses do not know how to deal  with the issue.
  • While another fifth – 18% – of businesses are investing heavily trying  to resolve the problem.
  • A fifth – 20% – are now monitoring for online reviews daily.

Igniyte’s best practice for managing reviews

In an age where negative and damaging content can be posted and shared instantly, it’s inherent that brands take a pro-active approach to managing online reviews and comments, not wait until a crisis is upon them. A long-term solid review and forum management plan will help to protect your brand against unfair posts.

Here’s our top advice for managing your online reviews and forum posts:

  1. Customer service functions and marketing departments must work together; the process of dealing with offline and online complaints needs to be consistent.
  2. If you have an active account on the larger review platforms, apologise and respond to reviews – let other visitors to the site read your comments, not the reviewers.
  3. Monitor online conversations about your brand and watch out for comments and reviews, it’s equally as important for highlighting the positive comments as well as the negative.
  4. Don’t ignore negative comments – respond to them as though you would a complaint, also ensure you’re promoting the positive comments. This will build trust and promote your brand.
  5. Create and promote positive content surrounding your brand and its products and services; if this natural content is written to appeal to your target audience, it should rank well.

Igniyte is a specialist reputation management company supporting individuals, executives, companies and brands in building a strong online presence through positive communications and content. We consult on an array of online reputational issues including review management, removal of defamatory content, privacy, and crisis communications.

For further information please contact Simon Wadsworth.

Research commissioned by Igniyte, survey conducted by OnePoll

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