November 16, 2011
Surprise! Going Negative Might Be Good for Business Blogging
According to a new study, giving the guy (or gal) who blogs on your company’s dime enough leeway to be critical of you from time to time goes a long way in your customer’s eyes.
Rohit Aggarwal of the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, along with colleagues from the University of Connecticut and Carnegie Mellon University, questioned readers who were provided company blog posts to read. Surprisingly, those blogs that allowed some measure of criticism were seen as “reflecting integrity of employees,” as well as “honesty and openness from the company about their products or services.”
I suppose it makes sense. After all, how many of us believe the advertisements we watch in television commercials or on the radio anymore? It’s one brilliant positive about the product after another, while we scan our local newspapers and find consumer compaints and bad product lawsuits piling up.
The team published their findings as “Blog, Blogger, and the Firm: Can Negative Posts by Employees Lead to Positive Outcomes?,” in the upcoming edition of the Information Research Journal.
This is a far leap from companies firing anyone who dares put down the company, even on their own personal blog, and flies in the face of conventional corporate thought. Of course, there is some reason to be concerned, as internal criticism published too often could backfire on a company. “We found that the optimal percentage for negative posts is about 15 percent to 20 percent,” said Aggarwal.
So how do companies take advantage of providing a new-found freedom to company bloggers? By providing some guidelines to keep the discussion respectful, and being vigilant in online monitoring – not to punish, but to learn and make changes. “If the (negative” ratio is too high, they can talk with those employees about their concerns.”
Aggarwal believes a company can strike the proper balance and grow from it, by listening to those that have the most invested in it’s success, and avoiding the impulse to stifle public criticism from their own quarters.
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