Defending your business online can be a matter of survival. Companies that ignore damaging and often malicious attacks are taking a big risk. And the danger is growing as negative comments are increasingly being posted online in blogs, chat rooms, online industry forum boards and consumer protection and public service sites.
Even small and medium-size businesses are being attacked, not just the bigger, more obvious targets of consumer displeasure, such as large insurance companies and mortgage bankers. Online assaults and intentional misrepresentations of your company, products and corporate ethics can easily affect local and national consumer opinion if they are not addressed.
Some of them may be from customers who are genuinely upset — perhaps with good reason — but they may also be posted anonymously by competitors seeking to put you at a disadvantage or to cause your clients or potential partners to think again before finalizing a big deal.
Other possible culprits: angry ex-employees, or even their family members and friends, who want to create doubts about your reputation. Whatever the source, damaging words can slow sales or raise questions that could be hard to erase.
Photos by VinnyPrime/Neuroman.