What would you do if your business started receiving a flurry of bad reviews on the internet? What would be your game plan to address the snowball effect of negative comments on social media sites such as Yelp or OpenTable? You need to have a strategy in place before such events occur. A definite strategy ensures your ability to protect the reputation of your business that you built with hard work and dedication over the years. Nowadays, businesses face many problems due to the anonymous nature of the online world. Anyone can share negative experiences—founded or unfounded—about businesses with very few restrictions.
Granted, positive reviews are also part of the picture, but they do not spread as quickly as negative reviews. In the animal kingdom, if one hyena successfully injures and disables a wildebeest, others appear and join in on the attack the compromised prey with more gusto and wild abandon, energized by the initial actions of the first hyena, and will not stop until the prey is completely devoured. In the world of humans, this phenomenon is mirrored by sudden onslaughts of bad reviews of a business. This sociological phenomenon is called “Groupthink,” a term that was coined by sociologist Irving Janis in 1972. According to Janis, it occurs “when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (9). So, even though the negativity may be unfounded, there is a pack mentality that occurs in which other negative reviewers add to threads of negative commentary, either to solidify their sense of belonging to a certain social group, or to win admittance to a social group. As Janis suggests, “reality testing” can decrease as a factor, which means that, at its worst, many of the negative reviews can have very little or no basis in the actual experiences or truth once the negative comments multiply. This is where reputation management comes into the picture. It is in the best interest of your business to hire a reputation management firm that can provide the expertise to mitigate appearances of negative commentary on social media in an effective and timely manner. Without reputation management support in place, your business is at risk of losing business from the exponential nature of negative reviews in the social media space and the irreparable damage that can be done to your brand. The best defense for businesses is a good offense: A professional firm that offers reputation monitoring and management, with the ability to mitigate negative reviews before they start a viral negative campaign on social media. Reputation management experts can, not only monitor, but also devise a strategy to handle negative comments in a manner that de-escalates the “groupthink” effect, while concurrently cultivating a campaign of positive reviews. In the world social media, the groupthink phenomenon can be used to grow threads of positive commentary because, fortunately, people also seek a sense of community with others based on what they do like. In short, even though you may feel that reputation management on social media is not as important as other aspects of your marketing strategy, it is definitely one that you should take seriously. Works Cited: Janis, Irving L. Victims of Groupthink. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1972. Print.