According to new research from reputation management company Igniyte, 52 per cent of those questioned have experienced a decline in business because of bad reviews and negative postings online over the last 12 months.
A further one in five (21 per cent) are terrified further negative content could destroy them for good – up from one in six two years ago – with more than one in ten (11 per cent) reporting the situation is getting worse.
Almost half (47 per cent) of the 500 business owners and decision-makers questioned by Igniyte have been affected by malicious posts and bad reviews in the past year.
Another one in ten feel the landscape is becoming trickier to manage and one in eight (12 per cent) of those affected say they don’t know how to make things right.
This heightened awareness of the dangers of unmonitored content is growing. An overwhelming 79 per cent feel online reviews, comments and forum posts are important to their finances and the reputation of their businesses – an increase of three per cent since they were surveyed two years ago.
For those that are trying to protect their interests, the time costs can be huge. Nearly a third (30 per cent) are spending five hours a week managing reviews, with one in eight (13 per cent) dedicating up to 20 hours each week.
Almost one in five (19 per cent) have been forced to create an in-house role to monitor and review online content, while 12 per cent have signed up to a third party review platform, such as Trustpilot, in a bid to maintain a positive profile.
Igniyte director, Simon Wadsworth says that the data shows very clearly just how damaging malicious or unfair postings can be, and how important managing online content is to businesses today.
‘Taking control of a company’s online review and content strategy is crucial to its success,’ he adds. ‘Our 2014 data revealed the scale of the problem and the confusion surrounding how to tackle it.’
The 2016 follow-up research reveals people are more worried than ever, with the number of people who feel bad reviews have the power to make or break their business having risen from 17 to 21 per cent.
Wadsworth feels that getting to the root of the problem is essential. Employing good customer service and using negative feedback productively can help improve operations.
‘It’s about having a robust business with good customer service/complaint handling processes and strong positive dialogue as its starting point.’