Reputation Management: The Downside of Arguing Online

Reputation Management

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you love your business and will defend it against any and all naysayers. However, when this type of give and take goes online in the form of an argument, there is a good chance that the end result is going to detract from the perception of your business. Here are three examples:

  • You’re right – Being right may not be as important as the nature of the discourse between the company and the person posting the negative content. In a typical argument, particularly where an agreement isn’t likely to happen, emotions tend to escalate on both sides with verbiage that doesn’t reflect well on either party. A raging online argument tends to bring in more onlookers, some of whom may also want to get into the act. As a result, you’ll have a conversation that stays online for all to see and that may cast you and your company in an unflattering light. Instead of getting into an online shouting match, respectfully ask that the conversation be taken out of public view and handled either in person, on the phone or via email.
  • You’re wrong – If you can lose an argument while being right, you can definitely lose one if you’re wrong and look worse in the process. In a situation like this, the person who posted the original complaint may start soliciting other people for support, which will put the issue in front of an increasing number of people. It gets worse if other people who have experienced the same thing join the battle. While emotional reactions are a natural result of the feeling that your business is being attacked, if the person posting the content is right, your best course of action will be to apologize for whatever went wrong and take immediate steps to let that person know that you will rectify the situation as quickly as possible
  • You’re seen as being combative either way – Generally speaking, the most loyal consumers are those that have a positive overall experience with the companies and brands from which they make purchases. Whether you’re right or wrong, an argument that makes you look petty, condescending and unsympathetic toward your customers may have people looking for another place to do their business.

Businesses are now online, whether they’ve put themselves there or not. While there are many advantages to a virtual presence, there is also a greater chance that someone is going to say something nasty. If that happens, before doing anything else remember these three words, “never argue online”.


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