On Memorial Day weekend, I received a text from a prior client of mine (well, they aren’t a “prior” client, actually. Their services are on pause at the moment because their governor forced them to close their business due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Anyways, just as I was about to crack open my first Miller Lite of the day, my phone chimed in with a text. What happened next was pretty eye-opening.
"Help! I'm Being Attacked!"
This client informed me that somebody was stalking them in Instagram. This mystery person told my client that they were going to do everything in their power to put them out of business. My client even sent me screenshots of the horrible things this person was saying.
I told my client to immediately lock down her Instagram page to put a stop to that. But then the negative reviews started pouring in. This person began posting highly offensive reviews and 1 star ratings to my client’s Google Maps listing. One of the reviews even had my client’s home address in it.
I immediately reported the offending reviews to the Google My Business community forum and within 24 hours, the reviews with offensive content, as well as the doxxing content, were removed. However, the 1 star ratings remained.
Regardless, I reported all of them.
The client was satisfied that the horrible reviews were removed and grateful that I took the time out of my weekend to help her out (at no charge – we be like that here at Arcane Marketing).
Then, the waiting game began.
Being The Bigger Person
Just this morning, I received the following email from my client. NOTE: all identifying names, links, and details have been altered in an effort to maintain privacy and safety for my client.
Hello allJust wanted to follow up with this. I was still seeing the bad reviews on google and our rating at a 3.8. Do you know how long this is going to take to be removed? Thank you for your time with this.
This was my response.
Alice,The problem with 1 and 2 star ratings, with no review attached, is that Google is known to let those stand. When there is a review attached, it is easier to get them removed if they violate Google’s content guidelines. But, because a rating is only a rating and has no content via a written review, it is exceptionally more difficult to get those removed, if not impossible. This is one of the BIGGEST complaints that businesses and marketers have when it comes to Google Reviews and the bad actors who use Google to tarnish businesses. Compound that with the fact that because of the pandemic, Google is not responding to ANYBODY’S complaints. All of the normal channels that I use to communicate with Google are on auto-reply with no indication when an actual person from Google will respond.Here is my suggestion: get more positive Google Reviews. The best way to bring that rating up is to get more 4-5 star reviews on your listing. Right now, during Covid-19, I would take advantage of the fact that many people in this country are sympathetic to small businesses being hurt by shutdowns and lock downs. Here is what I would do if I were you:
- Compile a list of each and every email address of a happy customer you have ever had.
- Send them each an email (not canned but unique for each person) explaining how your business has suffered because you have had to close your doors for so long.
- Explain to each of them that you plan on opening soon and in an effort to get back to business as usual, as fast as possible, a review on your Google listing is HIGHLY appreciated.
- Do not offer them anything in return for a good review, but be absolutely sure you say this “your good review and support will not go unnoticed.” Then, make sure you take care of those customers who leave a good review the next time they do business with you.
- Thank them for their support. Show your appreciation for them.
- Send this link to them. When clicked, it takes the user to the place where they can leave a review: (My Client’s Google Maps Review Link Was Included Here)
- Be authentic in your email to them. Again, show gratitude, but not weakness.Alice, this is one aspect of reputation management. You need to be in reputation management mode now. What this means is that if we try to spend our time trying to get Google to remove 1 star ratings from your listing, it is very likely that we’ll be expending a lot of time and effort for a result that may never well come. However, if we instead use that time and energy getting better reviews on your Google listing (as well as in Yelp and Apple Maps), the good reviews will out-shine the bad ones and your star rating will increase. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing that all these new reviews are indeed authentic. Let’s make the authentic reviews drown out the nasty fake reviews. This is the RIGHT way to handle this.Let me put this another way… if you and I try to take on this issue alone by endlessly contacting Google and flagging the bad reviews to try to get them taken down, it’s just you and I against a behemoth. Our odds are very slim, if nonexistent. However, if we recruit allies (i.e. your existing happy customers, friends and family) to fight this one nasty person who has a grudge against you, our combined voices and efforts will drown out that person’s miserable existence. In the end, you will feel MUCH MORE satisfaction than you would if you spent $1,000’s of dollars trying to get a handful of 1 star reviews removed.This is the time to be the bigger person and be proactive, rather than reactive. True character means sweeping the negativity aside, rolling up your sleeves, and putting in the hard work that will result in meaningful, fruitful, and positive outcomes.Screw Google. Google doesn’t care about you, me, or anybody else. Let’s instead employ the help of people who genuinely DO CARE about you – your loyal customers, your friends, your family, and, of course, Wayne and Arcane Marketing (shameless plug, I know).I would be happy to schedule a time to cat with you more about what we can do for you when it comes to Reputation Management. Let me know if you’re open to that.
I am still awaiting a response to that email.