27. January 2016 · Comments Off on Negative Reputation – You Can Run But You Can’t Hide · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

This is an online reputation example of a business who thought they could take the easy way out and run from their negative reviews; customer complaints and media coverage.

Zombieland Zombie chase via FanPop Wallpaper

Before we get into the mud, the business discussed here will remain anonymous as there’s no reason for us to make their online reputation matters worse. In addition, for the record, this isn’t a client of ours nor have we ever been retained to consult with or help improve their online reputation.

Here’s what happened:

The company, which we will refer to as “The ABC Company” is a retail establishment with a single store location on the East coast.

When searching for the company’s name in Google, the first two results are secured by The ABC Company’s domain name. From there, however, it gets worse.

50 reviews in Yelp averaging two (out of five) stars.

Two negative blogs

A complaint filed with the Ripoff Report

All on the first page of Google search results.

So, rather than try to clean up its reputation, The ABC Company opted to purchase a different domain and changed their business name slightly to “The ABCD Company.”

Guess what? That strategy never works.

You see, your negative reputation will always follow you. If you (as an individual) or your business didn’t get it right the first time, then chances are good you’re going to fail the second time.

The “new” business continued to earn poor reviews; negative complaints; media coverage as well as an onslaught of comments informing everyone that “The ABCD Company” is the same as “The ABC Company,” etc.

The “new” business has secured the top two results in Google with their new domain name, but a fresh batch of negative posts follow, including:

Back-to-back negative news stories.

Those same 50 bad Yelp reviews (reviewers helped Yelp connect the new company with the old company).

A negative blog.

A legal matter.

Two more negative blogs and a negative Facebook Page attacking the new company round out the Top 10 search results.

Overall, the reputation for the “new” firm is worse than the original company.

Where do you start?

Well, besides shuttering your doors and never going into business again, this is an online reputation problem from a very dark place. It would require the following:

  • There’s obviously more here than just an upset customer or two, so other problems exist within the company itself. Processes, products, services and staff need to be corrected; modified and re-trained internally first.
  • Develop and implement a strong public relations campaign. Only new and fresh online media coverage (print and video) can outrank old negative URLs appearing in search results.
  • Blog every day. Maybe twice a day. Work on your company and brand name.
  • Share a ton of positive photographs in social media (Twitter; Flickr; Facebook, etc.).
  • Film and share your own positive videos on YouTube and in other social networks.

This online reputation problem can be fixed, but it will have to start internally and then publicly.

 

07. January 2016 · Comments Off on How One Post Ruined Holly Jones’ Online Reputation · Categories: ORM, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , , ,

No one plans on ruining their online reputation.

However, in this case, Holly Jones of Indianapolis didn’t think before she posted her New Year’s Eve restaurant complaint on the establishment’s Facebook page.

This is a prime example of how quickly one’s reputation can be severely damaged (almost to the point of zero chance of recovery) and how a business’ posse quickly came to the rescue and defended its actions.

In a blink of an eye, the story when viral.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened:

Jones and her party were enjoying their New Year’s Eve dinner at Kilroy’s Bar and Grill in downtown Indianapolis. During the evening, a 70-year-old woman suffered a heart attack. Paramedics arrived; took the patient to the hospital, where she is recovering.

Rather than showing a little civility, mercy and care, Jones felt the need to post a message on Kilroy’s Facebook Page and blasted the restaurant; management; the suffering woman (who Jones said suffered from an overdose) and complained about her $700 bill.

Now, since the post was published on Kilroy’s Facebook page, the restaurant could have simply deleted her post. However, Kilroy’s Managing Partner Chris Burton blasted back….big time:

“This poor lady, who was celebrating New Year’s Eve with her husband and son, had to be placed on the floor of a completely packed bar and have her shirt removed in front of everyone so the paramedics could work on her. But I can completely understand why you think being intoxicated a******s that didn’t understand your bill should take priority over human life. I especially appreciate you making your server (who doesn’t curse) cry as well. I’m sure she really enjoyed working on New Year’s Eve just to deal with people such as yourself.”

Burton went on and told Jones that she was “cold hearted and nasty” and that he wouldn’t lose a second of sleep over her pledge never to return to Kilroy’s.

However, the fire storm was just getting started.

Enter local media, Twitter and here you go. Even at 2 a.m., the story was trending (#HollyJones). Holly Jones was getting blasted by those who never knew her; never met her; never had been to Kilroy’s; never had been to Indianapolis or, even been to the United States for that matter. Other Facebook users with the name “Holly Jones” were getting hate mail and anonymous threatening phone calls.

Jones took down her Facebook Page (claiming it had been hacked) and it appears she also lost her job as a hair stylist. Burton and his fans donated $14,000 in funds for medical bills of the heart attack victim

Did Holly Jones deserve it? Did she pick a fight with Kilroy’s and is now paying a huge price for her public post?  Did the restaurant manager go too far? Are the tables finally turning on restaurant review trolls?

Holly Jones

Some of the ongoing reviews and conversations on Kilroy’s Facebook Page from January 5, 2016

 

29. December 2015 · Comments Off on Yes, Angie’s List Lets You Get Negative Reviews Removed for Your Business · Categories: ORM · Tags: , , , , ,

by Leigh Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

We frequently hear from clients within the first line of their messages that we “must remove” the negative review of their business within search results. We spend a significant amount of time with clients educating them about the online reputation process and stand by our routine counsel that it is still almost impossible to have negative reviews removed … that bad press must be pushed down in search engines with good press.

However, this week, the Consumerist blog outlined how you can get negative reviews removed from Angie’s List once your dispute with a company is properly resolved.

Angies's List Removes Negative Reviews

 

In the article entitled “Angie of Angie’s List Defends Policy of Removing Negative Reviews If Customers Get Refunds” Ashlee Kieler details the Angie’s List process and terms of services for businesses if premium membership customers receive refunds from businesses for poor service performance. Angie’s List has taken a bit of a hit from some consumers declaring unfair censorship; however, Angie Hicks, the company founder, defends the resolution process saying that it has been an effective tool for 20 years. Stating that their goal is not to be a complaint site, the premium membership customers who choose to go through the resolution system are well informed that their negative review will be removed from the business’ listing should a resolution or refund be met. And although the negative review will be removed, the customer does have the opportunity to submit updated feedback about the business as long as it is positive.

While that agreement doesn’t specify at that point that the new review must be positive, a separate affirmative check box to start the resolution process does address the new review: “I understand that if the service provider resolves the issue to my satisfaction, the review will be deleted, and I will have the opportunity to update my review with a positive one.” – The Consumerist, December 14, 2015

In terms of businesses having an opportunity for a second chance, this seems like a reasonable process that keeps the marketplace civil giving both businesses and customers an opportunity to reach resolution and move forward, and perhaps make the internet a more welcoming place for review exchanges.

The Angie’s List company does heavily monitor consumer reviews – perhaps better than any other purveyor – and has a strong telephone availability for both business and consumer members. By using their call center team, it has allowed them to sniff out bad actors and provide review and resolution guidance.

22. December 2015 · Comments Off on The Opportunities for Building Positive Reviews for Your Business Just Grew Exponentially · Categories: Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , ,

by Leigh Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

As a way to do some Facebook limitations testing and as a means of coming up with a new way to test potential interview candidates for our social media staff team, for a couple of weeks each morning I pushed myself to play with the Facebook Editor (https://www.facebook.com/editor) . This is an area of Facebook where you suggest areas or “edits” for improvement for business and place pages within the Facebook garden. The business pages suggested start out as places where you can make local business page editorial suggestions. As you become more adept (and pass Facebook’s muster) they will give you pages to suggest edits in far flung locations…like bars in the Texas desert, marketing businesses that are spamming keywords in alternative categories such as dentists, and fake pages you can report.

By helping me better assess Facebook activity for our clients’ various industries, it is also a funny way to pass the time over coffee — especially for business and media geeks. Facebook has succeeded in crowd sourcing a global editorial team that provides free edits of “business categories” to their business pages as a means of encouraging businesses to improve their business page content. There is a global team contest going on for the month of December, but you can still participate as an anonymous individual and the app will reward you personally with new levels and an accuracy rate. Am now just up to Level 12 with an 86% accuracy rate. I would probably have a higher accuracy rate if I hadn’t made some of my earliest edits “rebellion” edits for Trump Towers and businesses I had recently been burned by…but that’s another topic for another blog post.

Facebook Professional Services

As I started doing this for a few weeks, I became curious as to “why” Facebook was mobilizing and incentivizing a team of editors for all of these business pages. My question was answered when both Search Engine Land and WIRED magazine wrote articles regarding Facebook’s soft roll out of their “Professional Services” pages.

Facebook Takes on Yelp, but Doesn’t Get a Thumbs Up Yet by Brian Barrett on 12/15/15

Is “Facebook Professional Services” Facebook’s Stealth Project to Beat Yelp? Unannounced desktop-only feature gives people the ability to find the highest-rated businesses in a given area. by Martin Beck on 12/14/15

Apparently Facebook saw a window of opportunity for grabbing market share as there have been numerous rumors about Angie’s List being bought out or absorbed and Yelp and Google reviews enduring a plethora of small business lawsuits. We also wrote recently on our blog how Google Plus is Dropping Small Business Reviews.

This new Professional Services feature in Facebook is available to users anonymously via desktop by going to this link https://facebook.com/services . Visiting this link via Safari on a mobile device, took us to the page, but asked us to login to our Facebook account first. Visitors to the Professional Services area in Facebook are presented with a page saying “Find Local Businesses with the Best Facebook Reviews and Ratings” that has their current location pre-determined via a form box. We were a little puzzled as to how location suggestions were being routed as Facebook directed me to businesses only in Erlanger, Kentucky which is not really a “normal” shopping area in our area. For the sake of privacy, my Facebook profile is intentionally set to say I live in Northern Kentucky which is “normal” for 4000 users in our area. When we attempted to use the location override and insert our actual city location, we got the same thumbnail pictures results for Erlanger, KY which indicated the same businesses. But the sub-section of the page did serve up a logical assortment of business categories like wedding planners, business consultants, dentists, electricians, day cares, etc. Once I clicked on a specific category, I obtained better localized results for businesses in our area.

From the standpoint of building positive reviews; however, what was interesting is how many business results appeared with very few completed Facebook profiles, or reviews. Clearly, small businesses in our area need to get on board with enhancing their business profile pages within the Facebook walled garden. We see this as a golden opportunity for building positive business reviews for your business.  Take a look at your own business profile in Facebook and make sure it is what you want your customers to see.  If you are overwhelmed with the task, contact us and we can help.

Contact Mountain Woods Media for help with Facebook

 

09. December 2015 · Comments Off on Google Plus Dropping Small Business Reviews · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , ,

Google Plus Dropping Small Business ReviewsIt’s not like many were that excited about using Google+ anyhow, so it comes to no surprise few are shedding tears over the Google+ update removing local business reviews.

Yes, small businesses will probably continue to update, improve and optimize their Google+ page. After all, anything you can do to help your business on any Google platform is a good thing. Right?

However, small businesses like – and need – local reviews to help promote their products and services. It’s almost like Google isn’t that interested in small businesses anymore.

Google says reviews are still visible and accessible on Google Search and Google Maps, which is probably the real way most prospects and customers find your business. Business owners will now be able to respond to reviews in “Google My Business.”

Again, do you get the feeling Google is pushing small businesses away from Google+ and making business owners do something else in order to respond to online reviews?

Google has been – and will continue to be – very confusing with its online review process. Google Maps; Google Places; Google Plus; Google+ Local and now – poof! – no more reviews but you can go here and here and here.

No wonder why small business owners struggle with online reviews and trying to maintain a good online reputation for their company.

Remember, Google+ was supposed to be the Facebook killer giving individuals and businesses an alternative. Google+ never caught on as many asked the same question over and over “why do I need to be here?”

Don’t let Google’s small business strategy and failures with Google+ worry you. Focus instead on those online review websites that are increasing website traffic and helping you earn higher rankings in search engines (i.e., Yelp, Manta, CitySearch and many others).

02. October 2015 · Comments Off on Don’t Worry About The ‘Haters’ When It Comes To Business Reviews · Categories: Mountain Woods Media · Tags: , , ,

HatersOnline reviews – both positive and negative – can go a long way when it comes to earning new customers and trying to maintain an ongoing positive online reputation.

Unfortunately, some businesses choose not to participate in the online review process because they fear an onslaught of bad business reviews. Let’s go ahead and put this myth aside:

  • Customers can leave reviews for your company whether you claim and confirm your business profile in Yelp, Manta and other review sites. Just because you haven’t claimed your profile, doesn’t mean it won’t be active in review websites. It’s best to participate so you can communicate with your customers and earn higher rankings by completing your profile.
  • Former employees and “haters” might indeed leave bad reviews for your business. However, review websites (such as Yelp) have algorithms in place to recognize and hide negative reviews from profile view. Even so, most intelligent customers can easily spot a fake review (good or bad).
  • Competitors might also leave your business a bad review. Yelp will automatically remove reviews that are proven to have been written by a competitor.

Overall, don’t let a few worrisome reasons keep your business from claiming, confirming and optimizing your business profile in review and mapping websites. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. For instance:

  • For each business profile you claim and optimize, you’re giving your business another opportunity to be seen by a future potential customer. Overall, there are approximately 50 good review websites that allow businesses to set up free profiles.
  • For each business profile you claim and optimize, that’s one more inbound link from a reputable website pointing back to your company’s website.
  • Many review websites, such as Yelp, rank high in Google on local search terms. Therefore, if your business can earn a higher position in Yelp, it will automatically earn a higher spot in search engine rankings.
  • Since more and more people are relying on smartphones and tablets, they are also using review apps, such as Yelp, in order to find restaurants; coffee shops; hotels and other businesses. You’ll want make sure your business is visible and up-to-date so future customers can find you in various review apps.

Learn more about online reputation management; Yelp and earning more local traffic to your website by previewing (free) these courses in Udemy.com:

“Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews”
https://www.udemy.com/online-reputation-management-negative-business-reviews

“Promote Your Business and Earn More Sales By Mastering Yelp”
https://www.udemy.com/mastering-yelp

“Earn More Sales By Increasing Local Traffic To Your Website”
https://www.udemy.com/earn-more-sales-by-increasing-local-traffic-to-your-website

 

 

24. August 2015 · Comments Off on How To Improve Online Reviews For Your Business · Categories: ORM, Training Courses · Tags: , , , ,

improve online reviews and business reputationMany business owners – especially those who own and operate restaurants and hotels – may actually rely on the reviews left online by their customers.

Customers don’t want a bad experience or poor service. They really don’t. However, if they leave with a bad experience, they usually turn to Yelp or another online review website to share their opinions with the world.

As a business owner, you can learn from negative reviews, improve your online reviews and take steps to ensure better reviews and better communication with customers. Here’s how:

  • Make sure you’ve claimed and confirmed your business profile with online review websites; business listing websites and mapping sites. These would include services such as Yelp, Google+ Local, Bing Local, Manta and others.
  • Optimize your business profile with complete and accurate information. This includes correct address; telephone numbers; services and products offered; business hours; payment types accepted (including credit cards); photographs and videos. The more information you complete, the better your business will be ranked within the review website.
  • Keep your profile updated. Add new pictures and videos on a regular basis.
  • Respond to customers who leave reviews. Correspond with all customers through the review website. This shows other customers that you are grateful for good reviews and that you’re eager to solve any problems or poor customer experiences with your business. This goes a long way with potential new customers.
  • It’s perfectly fine to ask regular customers; family or friends for a review. Tell them you’re trying to improve your business’ reviews and, if they are willing to leave your business a review, you would appreciate it.
  • Never offer discounts or free services or food in exchange for good reviews.

For more information on earning better reviews, check out our course “Online Reputation Management: Handling Negative Reviews” on Udemy.com.