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A new report has found that 48% of UK businesses felt an impact on their company’s reputation and sales in the last year due to negative content about their brand online

39% of companies are being affected by fake online reviews and 71% believe negative social media is the most damaging content to their company reputatio

A new report published today (26th May) by the UK’s leading online reputation management consultancy, Igniyte, has highlighted the damaging impact that fake customer reviews and negative social media posts are having on UK businesses.

The report which surveyed 500 UK business owners, and managers who make strategy or marketing decisions, shows the damaging effect that negative online content is having on UK business’s reputation, specifically fake online reviews, and critical social media comments. The report also analyses the way businesses currently handle negative online content about their brand.

The new research found that 48% of UK businesses have felt an impact on their company’s reputation and sales in the last year due to negative content about their brand online.

39% of businesses say that they have been directly affected by fake reviews on platforms such as Google, Trustpilot, Trip Advisor, Reevoo and in the last year.

A staggering 68% of businesses are now worried about fake reviews and 84% of managers say online reviews are critical to the financial and reputational state of their business.

Fake or negative online reviews are now seen as the biggest threat to the reputation of UK businesses in 2021. However, the data shows 47% of businesses do not actively deal or respond to their online reviews.

Additionally, 71% of businesses say critical posts and malicious comments on social media are the most damaging form of online content to their business – across platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Pinterest, YouTube, and Reddit.

The new research asked what businesses felt were the biggest threats to their company’s reputation and aims to help guide businesses on how to improve their negative reputation.

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As such, the biggest threats to a business’s reputation in 2021 are:

  1. Negative reviews
  2. Online crises (including Social Media crises)
  3. Offline crises (e.g., operational or product failure)
  4. Other businesses undercutting
  5. Incidents with employees or board members
  6. Lack of company social media activity

In 2021, negative online content about brands, such as social media or negative press coverage, are now a bigger threat to business reputation than operational issues like pricing, product failures or employee conduct.

However, 25% of businesses do not currently monitor their company’s online reputation through appropriate monitoring tools. In fact, 28% of the UK managers surveyed did not believe their business has been affected by negative online content.

Speaking about the findings, Simon Wadsworth, Managing Director of Igniyte, said: “We know the importance of online reputation to brands and businesses, and as specialists we monitor changes closely. We’ve been tracking the causes of reputational risk for over ten years and it’s interesting to see the worry that negative, or worse still fake, reviews are causing, but we know there are lots of options that can be done.

What our Reputation Report 2021 shows very clearly is that the threats that both offline and online are affecting UK brands and businesses – often with huge financial implications.  Tackling these often requires specialist help, starting with effective monitoring and auditing and including ongoing work to create and maintain a robust brand image – for individuals and businesses.”

Miles Bentley, Head of Marketing at Yoono, a brand-new start-up that offers reputation reports, adds: “your online reputation can be what makes or breaks you, whether an individual, a business, or a brand. In today’s digital world, people can find out a lot about you with a few searches, and we know how damaging that can be.

Critical customer reviews, negative social media comments and bad press are a much bigger problem for businesses than you might think, with many people using this information as a reason to not do business with them. Taking control of your reputation is really important, and one of the first steps is knowing what is being said about you, and what are your priorities.”


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