Normally when we think of cyberbullying in the business world, we think of trolls harassing individuals within the workplace. Motivated by peer acceptance, recognition or occasionally retribution, these aggressors use digital means, especially social media, to provoke others online by ranting, using inflammatory or offensive language, or just simply spreading false information just for the thrill of feeling important. Types of bullying tactics can be found here – 42 Examples of Cyberbullying and Tactics.
But just as harmful are cyberbullies who intentionally make wild and false claims about an organization to damage their reputation or cause financial loss. Whether due to competitive jealousy or ornery meanness to make a business look bad, their intention is to do harm. Tactics might include:
- Negative, harmful, or outright cruel posts or emails
- Harmful false reviews
- Online threats
- Revealing personal information
- Hate pages/forums
- Constant derailing of conversation on social networks
- Imitation of victim to create negative interactions
The internet magnifies the power of these cyberbullies, allowing them to share whatever version of the truth they want people to see, often bringing in allies to their aid who are fooled into believing they are rallying for a good cause. Typically, cyberbullies anonymously place multiple negative reviews across a wide range of review outlets. They know customers look at review websites before shopping or choosing a company’s services. A single one-star review has the weight of five 5-star reviews. A company can easily lose business opportunities with lower star ratings.
Steps to Prevent Cyberbullying and Reduce Its Far-Reaching Damage
Writing for American Express Business Trends and Insights, Julie Bawden-Davis offers us several tips to counter cyberbullying.
- Be proactive – Garner as many positive feedback comments on social media platforms as possible. Get positive reviews towards the top of the list and enhance your overall profile with the intent to drown out negative posts with real satisfied customers.
- Have allies and customers at the ready – You can play this game too. Respond in a strong and swift manner to let the cyberbully know there is a high price to pay for messing with your organization. Have allies and customers available to post rebuttals. Do not make your organization an easy target.
- Respond quickly – Most negative reviews are done within a week of the service rendered. Post daily positive customer service feedback texts or emails promptly after using the service helps cut down on negative online company feedback. Have a manager, or even the business owner, reach out to the concerned customer. When all else fails, never be afraid to explain the situation publicly on the review site.
- Monitor your social media and review platforms regularly – Don’t overlook your reputation on forums and review sites. Actively monitor reviews on all platforms and reply to reviews – both good and bad – in a professional tone and as timely as feasible.
- Get informed – Evaluate all sides of a situation to assess the tone of the review/complaint, and potentially deal with it. Always take a proactive approach. If the error is yours, admit it and take care of it immediately. If the person is participating in business cyberbullying, push back, but be professional.
Cyber trolls can wreak havoc on a company by blindsiding it, creating public confusion toward a business that can create serious issues for a brand. Some of these cyberbullying attacks are very sophisticated. Don’t let a false narrative ruin your organization’s reputation. Fight cyberbullies with the same professionalism and passion that made you successful. Or using a famous quote from The Godfather and You Got Mail, “go to the mattresses” to take an aggressive stance against cyberbullies.