More than half of businesses have been affected by malicious online reviews, says research

Over half (51%) of businesses were affected by unfounded criticism, malicious postings or targeted by online “trolls” last year, and they say the problem is getting worse. This is according to recent research, commissioned by Igniyte, that also revealed that companies are spending up to £30,000 a year trying to deal with the problem, and one in six say malicious online reviews have the power to destroy a business.

The ability for a brand to tap into its audiences conversations and engage with them appropriately is a sign of strong brand resilience; but with the number of review and forum sites growing, it’s becoming harder for brands to monitor and control the content surrounding them.

The research comes just a couple of months after Amazon and Yelp launched legal challenges against American “fake review” sites, suing a number of sites which offered paid reviews.

Used correctly, review and forum sites are a force for good, giving a much-needed voice to the consumer; but a growing number of businesses are falling victim to unjustified negative content online and the effect can be devastating.

One in six of UK companies surveyed said that malicious online reviews had the power to destroy a business completely, and over 20% have now created a specific in-house online reviews manager role to try and tackle the issue.

Worryingly, 24% of UK companies admitted to having to take legal action in the last year to challenge or remove malicious content online about their brand. So, what is the answer? What can brands do to protect themselves from negative online content?

There will always be situations where brands will need to react quickly to respond to a negative comment – but by creating a long term review and forum management plan, brands can begin to protect themselves against unfair posts.

The key is ensuring that the management of offline and online complaints is consistent – customer service and marketing departments need to work together. Negative reviews and forum posts should be treated the same way as a complaint.

As well as monitoring for negative content, brands should look out for positive comments to promote, too. Unfortunately, this isn’t a problem that’s going to go away – for modern businesses, developing an effective strategy for dealing with online reviews is a must.


The survey was conducted by OnePoll in February 2015 and gathered the views of 1,000 business owners and higher decision makers across the UK.

Written by Caroline Skipsey, managing partner, Igniyte