In this blog I would like to touch on the legal aspects that business owners / entrepreneurs / heads of companies need to deal with when they take an active participation in managing their brand reputation online.
I will address two practical scenarios on this post:
Dealing with attackers
It is not uncommon, especially as your brand grows, that you will have haters. They may come in the form of consumer groups, bloggers, product users whose had a very unsavory experience with your product or service. Feedback from the haters usually show up as negative posts in their personal blogs. The sad thing about bad news is that they spread quicker. As more bloggers hear about the bad post, the tendency to repost and write similarly bad feedback is high. The other place that harbors negativity is on online forums, where a negative topic grows in popularity as more people contribute their bad comments to a posted topic, adding to bad fodder for search results.
You will recall that in an earlier post, I espoused the practice of addressing your attackers. This direct way of dealing with them is a great method for showing that you are a professional product or service provider. This may mean replying to negative forum posts, or replying to their badly written blogs. Be forwarned though, that this act can be a minefield for lawsuits if not handled properly. If you go this route, assume a diplomatic tone in the way you use your words. Focus by addressing the situation, never approach the author of the post or comment in a personal context. The long-term goal is to to fix the wrong done and get to the good side of your offended party. Refrain from getting back at them for their hurtful words with similar language. This practice will save you thousands in lawyer fees.
Taking legal action for legitimately illegal feedback
Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” In very specific cases, some online content generated by your haters can actually be legitimately illegal, such as if they use defamatory words, impart lies (false info), and is directly aimed at maliciously damaging your brand’s reputation. The best way to legally defend your company from this is to immediately request removal of the content. Immediacy is important. With the help of your legal counsel, you may approach the opposing party and show proof of their illegal act. If you approach them quickly and armed with proof, they are most likely going to comply by taking down the content. Added bonus, the negative content will not have time to rank on search results.
The threat of legal liability is real, and it can drain your company’s capital. Avail of a free business consultation with Bliss Drive. Call us today at 949-229-3454 and allow us to point out where you may be vulnerable when it comes to the legal aspects of your online reputation management.