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A well-maintained social media campaign should invite client related reviews to your site, but what happens when you feel a recent review could prove damaging to your online reputation and quite honestly you find yourself strongly disagreeing with the content finding it’s home on one of your Google marketing platforms?
As a leader in the industry Google presents options for such products as Google+, YouTube, and Blogger to post and share personalized content but due to the massive uploading of online submissions, Google does not involve itself in the prescreening of content but relies heavily on it’s users to monitor and flag any material deemed inappropriate.
To thwart this type of situation it is important for members of the legal community to delegate systematic monitoring of all social media content either by a designated staff member or an experienced online marketing firm. Words cut deep and while Google provides policies and procedures to review damaging content the tarnishing of your online reputation may have already occurred.
If you or your firm are utilizing Google+ as a mode of social media communication, Google has provided set procedures and policies for the review of any instance of damaging content but be forewarned, the outcome may not always result in your favor. Google holds the final determination.
Reporting the Problem
It is as simple as one click. Google mandates that if at anytime you believe the posted content to be untrue or malicious click on the Flag as Inappropriate link next to the review in question.
This action will alert the Google staff of your disagreement with the recently posted content. Google will then review the content against its criteria model to determine if any guidelines have been violated. You should note that Google encourages both positive and negative feedback as long as the negative content is not malicious in nature or blatantly false. Accepting negative comments, if not deemed inappropriate is a chance you undergo when inviting past, present or prospective clients for feedback on your firm or services.
Removing Inappropriate Content
Google is in your corner. They encourage good ratings for the business professional but to protect business owners and customers they house systems to review and later remove any damaging content but only if the contributor has violated any of the following:
Inappropriate content – reviews should not contain or link to any area of illegal content or areas that clearly violate the content policies of Google. Any reviews found supporting plagiarism will also be immediately removed.
Advertising and spam – false posts to purposely lower an individual's rating are highly prohibited as well as reviews directing prospective clients to other website locations. Especially those containing advertising material or specific telephone numbers. Google also prohibits publicity for certain types of businesses. Check with your online marketing firm to ensure that any area of your practice is not included on Google’s listing of prohibited areas.
Off topic – Google reserves the right to remove any content they deem inappropriate. They request that Google+ users only post content that they are familiar with. Using a post or review to maliciously incite a personal rant is in direct violation of Google practices. If a poster wants to report any incorrect information they should opt for the report a problem link and not post a review to air their dissatisfaction.
Conflict of Interest
Google declares that reviews are only valuable if they are honest and truly representative of services rendered. In line with Google’s policies and procedures, as an attorney you or a staff member should not post a review of your own practice or firm. Housing a specific location or kiosk to solicit reviews at your place of business is also against Google policy. The acceptance of monetary or product gifts are prohibited under Google policy as well. As a member of the legal community, you should refrain from posting a review on behalf of others or misrepresent yourself or your firm in any manner.
Unfortunately Google's algorithms have been known to directly flag and remove legitimate reviews as a method to lessen online abusive practices. For any attorney or business professional this can be frustrating. In Google's defense they are practicing their own form of online reputation management by ensuring that all reviews or posts are relevant and truthful in nature.
With the advancement of social media marketing, the management of your or your firm's online reputation remains a priority. It is crucial that you or your firm have your own policies and procedures in place when dealing with an unfavorable review or content post. As Google policy indicates they will not automatically remove a negative review if content is factual that is why it is imperative that you give your all to a well maintained and monitored social media marketing campaign to keep the negative comments at bay but to also provide a forum for your clients who want to sincerely rate your legal performance.
If you have questions on handling a negative comment or review, contact the experienced team of OVC, INC. Since 2008, we have been successfully constructing our own reputation as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting the legal community with all their social media marketing needs. With almost 80 percent of prospective clients relying on a honest interpretation of you or your firm, OVC's Online Reputation Management System can easily work hand in hand with Google to protect your good name. We will work with you to establish a proprietary site with reviews posting directly to Google+ and other primary social media sites to ensure a positive rate of return on your investment while also protecting your online persona. Contact us for a free review of your website today.
About the Author: Greg Wildman is the President of OVC, INC. Since 1999, Greg has developed hundreds of websites for attorneys from his company's inception as Online Video Concepts, LLC to the modern era's OVC, INC. Greg's knowledge of law firm marketing has helped many attorneys establish online presences through custom website development, Search Engine Optimization, legal directory partnerships, social media marketing, content writing and more.