Somebody might be damaging your reputation on the internet at this very moment. Posting something untrue on a blog, emailing false information to writers and journalists, creating hate sites with the purpose of spreading inaccurate information about you or your company. Cyber-libel is a real crime, and it is becoming more and more popular due to the fact that anybody can now use the web without much effort. What should you do about it? How can you evaluate the scope of the defamation and fix the problem?
Assess the problem on Google
Your customers are just one click away from you. If your prospect is googling your name (or the name of your company) and he or she sees negative reviews, terms like “scam” or other signs of a bad reputation, there is no doubt they will go to your competitor with a cleaner Google result page. All search engines are becoming the #1 trust source when it comes to finding information, services or products online and off-line. How many customers are you losing? The longer the malicious posting is online, the greater the effect will be on your reputation.
You should definitely act fast if you want to minimise the negative effects of the internet defamation. But before anything else, you should take some steps to understand better what the scope of the cyber-libel is and if you have to consider legal action.
- How big is the defamation?
Is it just a social network update, or a website with thousands of visitors?
- How long?
Determine how long has the defamation been online to understand the damage.
- Who is behind this?
Try to get as much information as you can on the author of the defamation. Sometimes Google searches and other regular ways are not sufficient to discover who it is.
- Consider the host and the guest
Under some circumstances, websites publishing defamatory comments or other types of content have direct responsibilities and need to act accordingly.
Sometimes, the best way to address criticism is simply to respond to it. Companies nowadays tend to be transparent in order to project a more authentic image, and they may want to give their version of facts. If a fake reviewer posted false information on a directory, for example, they could simply respond to it stating that the review contains inaccurate information, and that it might have been produced by a competitor. You should still work on getting the defamation removed if necessary, but considering an honest, comprehensive response to the defamation is a good way to start restoring your reputation.
Seek Professional Help
In some cases the best suggestion one can receive is simply to ignore the defamation. If its scope is limited and you are certain it is not damaging your business, or if there is a chance that legal action may actually amplify the defamation, ignoring is the simplest option.
In many cases, however, online defamation silently kills your company and gives an unfair advantage to your competitors. That is why hiring online reputation management experts is a good long-term solution. A wide range of expertise is needed in order to identify the problem and solve it as quickly as possible:
- IT: technical know how is essential to untangle Internet anonymity problems
- Investigation: in order to find quickly relevant information on criminal behavior
- Search Engine Optimization: to “clean” Google results and/or make your reputation more visible
- Legal: an internet defamation lawyer is needed to know exactly the steps to take if you have to sue the defamator(s)
Are you currently dealing with internet defamation? What is your most pressing problem right now?