Business Est. 7 minutes read

Consumers are blackmailing companies

Social Media has dawned a new era where the loudest consumer is in charge, and bloggers with just a small reach, wields destructive powers

…Get the results in the infographic below

Have you ever been blackmailed by a blogger?

This was a question I had to ask other webshop owners when I read a story about a business owner who was threatened by a blogger with a bad review on Instagram if she wouldn’t take back her very used shoes.

It made me wonder…

is this a common thing among webshop owners..?

If every once in awhile, they come across bloggers requesting for freebies with a subtle threat to write a bad review or rant if the business didn’t fulfill their wishes.

After posting that question, I got more than a hundred replies from my fellow business owners.

… I was not surprised by the results

Even though a 100 replies is not that statistically significant it is still enough to spot a trend.

Social media has given bloggers and consumers more power

In today’s age where it’s so easy to access the internet, it’s crucial for businesses to protect their reputation online.

One angry customer who feels strongly about being wronged by a business can go on social media and rant about their experience.

If they’re part of more than one social media, they may be compelled to do it on those other sites too as well as tell their friends and family about it.

Here is the catch.

They don’t even have to be wronged.

They just have to feel like, you did something wrong. It is a dangerous minefield..

Get the results in this short infographic

Embed on your site:

Right or wrong, the customer decides!

Whether the complaint is legitimate or not, the negative review has the potential to be seen by millions of people.

The same people who are your potential customers.

Existing customers even might stop buying from you

Even if it’s just a minor complaint, it could still cost a portion of your business in the future.

If this bad review is a part of a review platform like TripAdvisor or Yelp, the review will hurt less being amongst a bunch of great reviews.

This is where the bad review gets dangerous

…Outside a review-platform

A place online where this review gets its own place, not surrounded by thumbs-up or lists of 5-star ratings.

These are the hardest to catch

Examples could be:

  • Closed login-required webforums
  • Facebook groups, my local community has at least 3 groups with, 20, 27 and 30 thousand members.
  • A blog post or even worse, in a newsletter by a blogger.

Even small blogs wield destructive powers, they might not be aware of

If a regular customer can affect your business negatively with just one bad review, can you imagine the impact if it were a blogger or influencer who wrote a negative post about your business?

Bloggers love to share their experiences.

No matter how small, good and bad.

This can generate a lot of commentary from their loyal followers who may also talk about the negative experience with their friends and family.

And because people often like to root for the small guy, in this case, the blogger or influencer, the business may not stand a chance to resurrect their image.

The blogger might not even know, how much they are hurting your business..

Again, emphasis on the importance of reputation management, which we will discuss in the next part.

This is also why influencer marketing works

The situation described above is the same reason why influencer marketing works so well for businesses.

Bloggers and influencers have the power to persuade their fans of a certain product simply by plugging the business on their social media or blog.

Social Proof sells.

One study found that 74% of consumers look to social media before making a purchase.

Businesses are quickly realizing this as they shift to hordes of small influencers instead of celebrities to endorse their products.

This doesn’t mean that all influencers are good for you.

They need truly to love your product

Bad influencers and bullies

Like in everything else, there are good and there are those who take advantage of their power, constantly mooching on businesses for the sake of getting free stuff.

One influencer took it too far when she threatened a bakery with a bad review because they wouldn’t give her what she wanted.

The bakery who got blackmailed

A story, according to the bakery.

They started off with a few emails from the blogger asking for free macaron and marshmallow samples in exchange for a positive review on her blog.

The owner agreed and the blogger came to the bakery along with her friend during a special event.

This is where the blogger got greedy

Before the staff could hand her the stash of free stuff which included some of the bakery’s specialties, she asked for several boxes of their macarons, marshmallows and macarons plus two drinks all of which cost more than $150.

The staff didn’t cave in to her demands and she walked away from the bakery empty handed.

Social media retribution

30 minutes later, she comes back and buys two small items and then took to Twitter her negative sentiments about their food and service.

She also included unflattering photos of the products along with negative hashtags such as #badbakery, #awfulservice, and #wasteoftime.

In response to the owner’s account, she said it’s not worth it to write a blogpost and take high-quality photos just for a box of macaroons and marshmallows.

Get a clear written agreement

The business could have set the expectation early on telling the blogger what she would get in exchange for the exposure.

Blackmailing and extortion

Instead, she threatened the business with a negative review not because the product warranted it but because she didn’t get enough compensation.

The incident only painted the bakery to be a cheapskate who takes advantage of bloggers and the blogger as an extortionist.

The bakery fired back with blogging

Both the business and the blogger stained each other’s reputation.

No one wins.

You don’t want this to happen to your business.

To avoid the same unfortunate event from happening to you, here are some steps that you should take.

Protect yourself and succeed with influencers

#1 Make sure to do a background check.

Do they have a track record of ranting?

Or do they provide objective reviews of businesses they’ve worked with?

#2 Set expectations from the start

Once you’ve chosen your influencer, make sure to set the right expectations.

Tell them what they will get in exchange for their feedback about your business.

#3 establish your own social platform

It’s also mandatory to have social platforms of your own.

Do it before its too late

had it not been for the bakery’s blog and their social media, they wouldn’t have been able to defend themselves against the food blogger’s backlash.

It helps to mitigate the damage done by influencers who judge your business unfairly.

For review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, there is an option to dispute a negative review.

#4 take even the least negative review seriously

As for reviews that come from regular customers, make sure to acknowledge and empathize with them.

This is especially important with negative reviews which can quickly spread like wildfire.

Before it can damage your brand, you have to neutralize it by responding in a calm, professional manner.

There are some questions you need to answer before taking action:

Has a similar incident happened before?

How often does this complaint arise?

By asking yourself these, you make better informed decisions that benefit the customer and your business.

If a complaint has been recorded before, it could mean that aspect of your service should be improved.

Keep track of the mistakes and learn from them.

Don’t ignore feedback

Also, don’t ignore a negative feedback hoping it’ll go away.

Acknowledge the complaint as quickly as possible and start improving your service right away

Great customer service is more important than ever

As more people use social media to amplify their sentiments about brands, it’s imperative for businesses to focus on providing great customer service.

Sometimes, it can make all the difference in a customer’s experience.

Great customer service benefits you in so many ways:

  • It reduces friction when customers know they can talk to you.
  • It builds trust and loyalty. Customers stay with a company when they have very good reason to do so.
  • Sometimes, customers are willing to pay more when they know they’ll get the right experience.
  • It helps build brand awareness. Word of mouth is still a very powerful marketing tool. If you impress your customers with excellent service, they’ll want to share the experience with their friends and family.
  • It builds better morale for the team. When employees get praised for their service, they feel good about what they do.

So instead of fearing for the next bad review, focus on delivering great service during the transaction.

A happy customer does not just translate to a positive review but also profit, referrals, and a healthy reputation.

Get personal and be your own influencer

By putting a face and name on your business and delivering a great service, you will gain your own following.

Fans are the best guard unfairly treatment by influencers

Try talking bad about Taylor Swift on Twitter or as a journalist, and you will know.

Written by Simon Elkjær
I work as a consultant and I have a passion for for e-commerce, optimisation, growth, SEO, and entrepreneurship.


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