User-generated content: don’t delete your negative reviews
The concept of user generated content (UGC) isn’t new, and it’s everywhere you look: forums, blogs, social media platforms, ecommerce sites, review sites, YouTube, etc., and because of the participatory and transparent nature of social media, this content often takes the form of user reviews and customer feedback. For many companies that are managing their brands online, the tendency might be to post and respond to only favorable feedback and comments, and remove anything negative.
But negative feedback is perhaps the single most underrated opportunity for reputation management the social web has to offer. Publishing and responding to negative reviews opens the door for several online marketing opportunities, and by deleting them, you might miss the chance to:
Establish a free focus group of die-hard advocates of your brand:
Own the forum for honest-to-goodness, candid, open discussion of your products and services. There’s nothing worse than not knowing where negative conversations take place, or worse still, not having access to take control and represent your brand. If you don’t host the conversation, someone else will. For example, if you’re an electronics manufacturer, it just makes sense to participate in the conversation on review sites, but you could also go a step further and take a page out of the Microsoft 360 or Sony PS3 strategy book to established fan forums instead.
Satisfy those visitors that look beyond glowing reviews:
Believe it or not, there are people out there that totally ignore all your glowing reviews. No product or service is without its flaws, and that type of information is what a lot of people rely on to compare their options. Beyond hosting the conversation, as outlined above, make sure that you include negative reviews of actual complaints, and things beyond your control. For example, whenever I plan a vacation, I look beyond light-and-fluffy, glowing, and potentially planted positive reviews. I go right to the dirt, then make my determination of whether the reviewer is being honest, or is simply whining.
Respond to problems can turn negatives into positives:
Never — EVER — let any negative comments go unanswered, especially on your own site. You’ll probably notice the next time you plan a vacation that travel sites are now doing a much better job of encouraging representatives from partner hotels and tour operators to reply to customers that aren’t satisfied with their booking. Computer reseller Newegg also does a fantastic job of getting manufacturers involved in addressing negative customer reviews. In the eyes of consumers, this kind of attention to customer service goes a long way to establish credibility and trust.
Of course, there may be many more reasons not to delete negative comments from your website, but these are by far the most important opportunities that many online marketers can easily incorporate into their online strategy. Having difficulty finding where to look? Consider Marketwire-Sysomos products for social media monitoring and analysis.