All three allow people to make comments about a business, good, bad and indifferent. Customers or reviewers--which are often the same--can make any comments they wish. They can praise a business as being the best of its type they have ever seen or curse the owner's every waking moment.
Each of these vehicles is a source of information that other people, especially potential customers, can use when deciding where to go and who to use for their service or product needs. However, each provides varying levels of content control.
Angie's ListThis site requires:
- Writers ("members") belong to the site, therefor paying a fee.
- Does not control any content on the pages, allowing anything--true, false or misleading--to appear in its site.
- Permits non-paid responses to comments made about a business to appear on the same site, giving no more--or less--weight to those comments.
- Will not, under any circumstances, remove comments made by anyone. This applies even to those that meet the legal definition of libel or slander.
Yelp allows people to review businesses and websites. Yelp permits businesses to respond to comments, including negative ones. This means:
- Reviews are posted by individuals.
- Businesses responding to reviews on Yelp should follow the company's suggestions.
- Individuals can control what they post, including removing reviews if they wish.
- Businesses responding to a negative review may not make the situation better but in fact, make it worse.
Blogs, such as this one, permit the blog "content owners" (i.e., the people who post content to it) to control comments and posts. In terms of comments, this means:
- Blog owners can determine what comments, if any, appear on their blog.
- Have the ability to not only edit their posts, but comments about those posts. Some blog owners only post positive feedback. Other choose not to post any.
- Have the ability to disregard or "blow off" negative comments and criticisms. It is best to only post negative comments when they are factually accurate. Posting comment promoting competing websites is bad for business.
Responding to Public Posts
How should a business respond to a public post, especially one critical of the company and/or an employee?
- Respond honestly and accurately, even if the original comment or review is false and misleading. Readers can make up their own minds, but only if you show them your business in a different light.
- In general, use criticisms as a way of looking at how you are doing business. What can we learn from this comment? How can we get better? Then explain that in your reply.
- Provide a link to your own blog, assuming the reviewing site allows it. This lets readers see other content not controlled by the negative reviewer. Most people will see the lone bad review as the exception when compared to 20 good ones.
- Ignore the negative review in extreme cases. Here is an example: an attempted comment, received 12/2/14 from a man who has previously defamed my character, states in part, "Fraudulent blog as (he) is unable to write a sentence let along a paragraph. All of this blog stuff, in my view looks copied, or worse, plagiarized in my judgement." (Note: this comment was marked as spam and the poster blocked from commenting on my blogs.)
How should a company not respond to a negative comment? Never use any of these methods, no matter how tempting:
- Offer the negative reviewer some form of compensation if they change their review to a positive one.
- Go into a back-and-forth public debate with a negative reviewer. The other person sets the rules. This means you will always lose.
- Tell the negative person to, "go slither back under the rock you came out from," or words to that effect. While these comments let you vent your anger, they do nothing to change the situation.