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How online reviews can destroy your brand - and what you can do about it

Aktualisiert: 8. Mai 2019

As a brand manager or business owner, you need to live for online reviews. And to fear them. They will tell you that there is no such thing like bad publicity - but that's not entirely true. A PR gig can turn very bad very soon and destroy your business before Monday.


A business case: how reviews can impact your business


Amy's Baking Company participated to Kitchen Nightmares, chef Gordon Ramsay's show. Now, that show is based entirely on the claim that any publicity may turn out to be good publicity. The show features horrendous kitchens of existing restaurants, worst service, bad labour conditions and interesting implementations of the health code. It went on for 7 years and helped restaurants turning successful by turning on the spotlight on them. After Ramsay had fixed one restaurant. everybody wanted to eat there.


With Amy's Baking Company, something went wrong. When people started commenting on social media, Yelp and Reddit, and the owners lost their cool. Instead of sitting back, doing some mild moderation and waiting for the reviewers to come see themselves, they got caught up in a shitstorm.


Long story short, the brand never recovered.


What do reviewers talk about online?


Interestingly enough, many of the reviewers of Amy's Baking Company hadn't ever been at the restaurant. Yet, they kept posting reviews of this tone:


The thing with reviews is - reviews may really be about your brand. But chances are, they will rather be about how your brand makes the reviewer feel. When it comes to sharing the buzz with the crowd, reviewers don't talk about the thing, they talk about the experience.



How to protect your brand in 3 steps


1. Do web care. It goes without saying that, first of all, you need to make it your business goal to give your customers and potential reviewers the best experience ever.


2. Have a plan to stop shitstorms. You need to expect that, eventually, something will go wrong at some point - and be prepared to do damage control. It can be very easy and very tricky to turn around an upcoming shitstorm. If one comes your way and you do not act fast, you can expect pretty nasty consequences within hours.


3. Build up your brand - always. An essential practice is to build up your brand in a controlled, planned manner. Knowing your brand community inside-out will protect your brand from within. A 3 hours shitstorm will destroy a rather weak brand, but will do nothing to a brand with thousands of brand ambassadors.


Try it out now - it works!


Try to put my recommendations into practice. You have something to add? Please leave a comment below.

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