We all know that blogs have taken the internet by storm (if you don’t know what a blog is, skip this article and move on to the one announcing the wheel). Millions of people are posting their thoughts, ideas, dreams, gossip, advertisements, and complaints on the web through personal weblogs. It seems that blogs are taking over. Well they’re not… yet.
Weblogs (blogs) are also changing the face of online business. Consumers now have the power to influence a much larger circle of peers. People share negative consumer experiences at least ten times as often as positive ones. Corporations beware! Hell hath no fury like a consumer scorned! And with the advent of blogging, dissatisfied consumers have more power and influence than ever before.
Many businesses now face the problem of negative press floating around inside search engine results – a trail of complaints and accusations left by disgruntled bloggers. Such negative online publicity is very damaging in what I call “search culture.”
Search culture refers to that portion of consumers who now do all of their product and company research on the web. Negative publicity affects them so much because they follow the top search results for every query.
Searchers don’t even have to click on a negative article or blog to read that brief description below the link. That one piece of information alone can cast a negative light on any given product or business. I have personally searched for a particular business or inspirational author and found more than enough complaints on the first page of results to make me wary of that individual or company.
If I’m trying to learn new information about a product or person, I search Google or Teoma. If the top results are comprised of consumer complaints, I am less likely to look much further. The immediate sense of danger quells any curiosity or desire to take a risk on something new.
That is why search is so powerful, why search engine optimization is so important, why people should be more careful with what they write, and why companies need weapons like blogs and press releases to combat the evil hordes.
The combat metaphor may seem a bit much, but some of you know what I’m talking about. It is a battle to reach the people. You must do whatever you can to reach them first. Someone will shape their opinions. It is only a question of “whom”.
How can a company blog to ethically combat negative press? Let’s lay out a scenario. XYZ Company discovers that within the top ten search results for their product names are customer complaints about usability. XYZ quickly researches the content of the complaint and responds with a blog post that solves the users’ problems or suggests alternatives.
Blogs are an effective way to manage public relations. Every company should have a blog on or connected to their company website. Consumers should have the opportunity to ask their questions and voice their complaints directly. Responding to these issues will both quell unnecessary bad press and win back some of your dissatisfied customers.
Everyone wants to feel special and important. A company who responds to customer questions and complaints via weblogs communicates a commitment to customer satisfaction.