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BizReport : Viral Marketing : July 01, 2008

Negative online buzz, monitor it don't ignore it

So your new product launch has been scuppered by a bout of negative reviews and consumer criticism. Instead of sticking your head in the sand and bemoaning the day you ever heard of buzz marketing, there are things you can do.

by Helen Leggatt

Many marketers are well prepared for positive online buzz and relish good reviews and user-generated feedback being banded round the Internet. There are some, however, who are unprepared for negative buzz and look the other way when faced with it.

What some marketers don’t realize is that how they handle negative buzz will affect how consumers see their brand almost as much as the initial bad review. Therefore, negative buzz needs to be monitored and responded to just as efficiently as the positive.

This is especially true for high commitment products such as cars, mobile phones and long term subscription services – items that the consumer will have to live with for a long period of time. For these types of product negative buzz will be the most destructive as it puts an element of doubt in the consumer’s mind.

So what can be done about negative buzz? Indeed, is it worth addressing the issue at all when research indicates that just 12% of Internet users find UGC on message boards and such like “trustworthy”.

As with any customer service issue negative buzz is best dealt with quickly and efficiently. Being prepared is half the battle. Pete Blackshaw, a founding member of WOMMA, suggests investigating the various degrees of emotion being portrayed and when, and developing strategies surrounding them. His research has found, for instance, that the highest degree of negative word of mouth is created when a product’s advertising is at odds with the product delivery experienced by a consumer.

This, says Blackshaw in one of his basic training podcasts, causes consumers to “go ballistic” leaving a “digital trail of discontent”.

As well as monitoring known message boards and forums, marketers can also look to websites such as Get Satisfaction to monitor what consumers are saying about them. The service even enables marketers to eavesdrop on Twitter conversations about their brands and react accordingly.

Tags: negative buzz, user generated content, viral marketing

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