So, someone went on the Internet and decided to say something bad about you, your company, or your products and services. The best thing to do is probably shrug it off, remember what your mom said about “sticks and stones,” and move on with your day… right?

Probably not. Although turning the other cheek can work well in the real world, on the Internet bad reviews really can do serious damage to your business. Here are a few of the biggest reasons why:

They can hurt (or kill) your sales and marketing. It’s very likely that someone who is considering buying from you is going to take a moment to Google your name, and/or your company’s name, as well as check review sites. If what they see spooks them in any way, you aren’t getting the business.

Bad reviews invite more bad reviews. It’s easy to forget that people will often follow a herd mentality. That is, when enough of us think something’s great, others will decide it’s pretty fantastic, too. Or, if bad reviews start to show up, you can bet other customers (who were previously pleased with your business) may find their opinions have changed and start to pile on, too.

They send the wrong message to employees. When a business has poor reviews online, employee morale is hurt. That could lead to decreased effort and productivity (they start to think it doesn’t matter because they aren’t working for a good business) and do serious damage to future recruiting.

It can be tempting to overreact to bad online reviews or ignore them altogether, but either response would be a mistake. To figure out how you should handle them, check back to my blog soon, or get in touch with me to find out about online reputation management services.