Cancel culture is real. An unflattering portrayal of a business in the media, even a poorly written tweet, can make things go south quickly for any brand, no matter how big or small. Mob mentality can cause an influx of bad reviews and negative content on review sites and social media, otherwise known in the reputation management world as a spam attack. A majority of these reviews will come from people who never even had a direct first-hand experience with your brand or business. That within itself is already grounds for review removal on almost any online review site. This video by Consumer Fusion CEO, Brynn Gibbs, shows you how to react quickly on the three major review sites, if your business ever falls victim to a spam attack.
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Temporarily Disable Reviews on Facebook
Go into the Settings of your Facebook Business Page. Click on the Templates and Tabs panel of your dashboard, look for the Reviews section and toggle the “Show Reviews” switch to the “Off” position and hit Save. This will temporarily remove the ability for someone to post a review to your Facebook Business Page. Whenever the whole media story blows over, and things go back to normal, you can toggle the reviews back on. It will save all previous reviews, so you don’t have to worry about losing any of your old positive reviews.
Reach Out to Yelp Support
Yelp has algorithms that can detect an influx of back-to-back negative reviews (or spam attack) but you will need to bring this to Yelp Support’s attention most of the time. Do a Google search for the Yelp Support phone number. Let the Support Representative know that your brand or business was part of a media story that went viral, and that your Yelp listing is getting flooded with negative reviews from users who have not had first-hand experiences with your business. Yelp will accommodate this by setting up a pop-up window alerting users who visit your listing that reviews are temporarily disabled due to Unusual Activity. Please note that it can take anywhere from a few minutes to sometimes even a few business days for this Unusual Activity Alert to take effect. During that time, Yelp Support will investigate your reviews and will personally filter out any content that violates their guidelines. Don’t forget to also flag those negative reviews as another means to bring the spam attack to Yelp Support’s attention as well.
Contact Google and Keep a Record
Reach out to Google Support directly to let them know about the spam attack on your Google Business Listing, and make sure to keep a record of your email thread, that way your contact with Google is time-stamped and documented. In case the spam attack carries on for longer than expected, you can always revert back to your initial emails. When contacting Google, make sure to also include any screenshots or a link to where Google Support can see a social platform where people are being directed and promoted to leave you negative reviews. Sounds crazy, but it happens. Flagging your negative reviews is also important, but Google Support tends to react quicker if you reach out to their support team directly. Google will decide if the spam attack is extreme and excessive, they will temporarily remove the option for Google users to leave a review. However this is a case by case basis determined by Google itself.
These are the quickest steps you can take to address a spam attack on the top 3 review sites: Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Clients have come to us in a panic, not knowing what to do as a result of bad publicity from a story that went viral, and we have been able to remove 100% of the reviews related to the spam attack using these quick and easy methods. It’s not about removing every single review that comes your way. It’s just about keeping reviews honest, so your brand can weather the storm and look forward to better days ahead.