In the same way a positive online review serves as the highest endorsement to a prospective customer, a negative review can have the opposite effect. So what recourse does a brand have when someone leaves a demonstrably false, negative review on Google or Facebook? It can be incredibly frustrating just trying to find a real person to speak with at both companies much less getting them to remove the review. After years of working with our clients to combat and remove false, negative reviews–often in large quantities–we’ve identified a few steps that can help get those reviews removed that we’ve shared in condensed form in this post.
How To Flag a Review on Google and Facebook
The first order of business once you receive a false, negative review is to flag it on Google by clicking the small flag at the top of the review. You’ll then be directed to this screen:
Unless there’s a blatant legal action to be had based on the review, you’ll want to avoid the first part and simply choose from the four options. The first two options are fairly specific but we’ve found that if those two options aren’t applicable then “off-topic” is far and away the best option to select.
Getting a review removed from Facebook is no easy task but you’ll want to start by flagging it by clicking the exclamation mark at the top right of the review. You’ll then be directed to this prompt:
As with Google reviews, the majority of the options are self-explanatory but if none of the obvious options apply you’ll want to select either “Recommendation Not Relevant” or “Unfair Recommendation”.
How To Respond To A Negative Review
Once you’ve flagged the review, you’ll want to respond to it in a way that explains what happened (or didn’t happen if they reviewed the wrong company or a product/service you don’t offer) as concisely as possible. When the powers that be at Google and Facebook are trying to make a decision about whether to remove the review, your response will serve as the opening salvo in what will likely be an ongoing conversation. Most importantly, you’ll want to end your response with a sentence that includes the *exact* wording of the flagging option you selected. We’ve found that concluding a response with “Please remove this off-topic review” on Google and “As this Recommendation is not Relevant” on Facebook is particularly effective. We wrote at length about how to respond to reviews here.
How to Contact Google and Facebook
Anyone that has tried to get in touch with customer service representatives at Google and Facebook knows that it can be like pulling teeth. However, there are ways to circumvent these arbitrary blockades to actually speak to a real person about your review getting removed.
- Post about it on the Google My Business Forums.
- Follow Google My Business on Twitter and send them a DM. This is surprisingly effective.
- Visit the Google My Business support page and go through the following steps:
- Click “Contact Us” in the top right of the page.
- Select Customer Reviews and Photos.
- Then select “other requests about reviews.”
- Once there you’ll be prompted to request a callback and someone from Google should call you shortly thereafter.
- Get everyone you know with a prominent presence on Google to flag the review for the same reason you flagged it initially.
- Contact business support. You won’t find any option at the top of the page that applies to getting your review removed and that’s ok because your goal here is just to talk to a real person. Click “Chat with a Representative” at the bottom of the page. On the next page, select “Pages” and then “Other.”
- Get anyone you know on Facebook to flag the review for the same reason you flagged it initially.
How To Leverage Your Ad Spend On Each Platform To Get Reviews Removed
It’s important to remember that both Google and Facebook are in the business of making money and this is where you have some degree of leverage. At Nuera, we manage ad spends for multiple clients on both platforms and have had a great amount of success getting reviews removed by contacting our ad reps at each platform. We have a dedicated ad rep at Facebook who has become a staunch advocate for our clients and has coordinated the removal of reviews on our behalf (once on Christmas Eve!). It’s a little trickier on Google, but there is a magic phrase to use with any Google support employee if you’re currently spending money on Adwords.
That magic phrase is “I don’t know how I can justify spending this amount of money on ads when my business is being subjected to these kinds of demonstrably false, inflammatory reviews and I have no recourse.” It won’t work every time but it definitely gets their attention.
The Value of Persistence
Your review almost certainly will not be removed overnight. There are so many potential stumbling blocks and it has taken us many years to develop a process that expedites reviews being removed. A lot of the time, getting a review removed can boil down to saying the right thing to the right person at the right time. It took us a long time to learn what to say in each given situation, but that knowledge was gleaned from not taking no for an answer when talking to each platform. So be persistent and don’t get discouraged!
It’s unsettling to say the least to have your business be on the receiving end of a false, negative review, but that initial frustration can be abated by enacting the practices we’ve identified here. It will almost always take a lot of time and effort to have a false review removed but it should be reassuring to know that you’re not effectively held hostage by fictitious, libelous reviews and the platforms that host them. Our social media management and digital marketing clients have been able to breathe easier knowing that their online reviews will always be merit-based as a result of our efforts and hopefully the same will be true for you.