Curate to Control Negative User-Content

One of the best resources a business or brand has at its disposal is an evangelist: a customer who spreads the news of the benefits of a product or service can be worth a mint over time. Even more valuable is the evangelist who creates positive online content for the brand in the form of blogs, videos and posts.

But what about negative content? What if a blogger produces a bad review of a product, or shares an opinion not based in fact but which makes the brand look bad? Once that content is out there it can be found by potential consumers, and businesses have little recourse to remove the content.

According to a study published in the journal, Marketing Science, the best strategy for a business facing a bad product review is to reduce advertising across all media. It seems counterintuitive, I know, but the added expense of advertising doesn’t make up for the reduced revenue from the bad review.

However, content curation gives us a novel approach for countering negative online consumer-generated content.


Content curation is the act of content selection, aggregation and distribution by people and not software. In essence, curators choose the best content about a subject and then pass it along to followers.

The method of content curation for a brand is pretty self-explanatory: the business combs the internet, finds positive content, and then passes it along to its consumers. Or, the business creates a site dedicated to curation and aggregates the positive content into a single place. This is precisely what Adobe does on both Delicious and its community pages.

The reason behind curation’s success at countering negative consumer content is precisely because the positive content is created by consumers. Research has demonstrated that 3rd party, independent reviews of a product or service are seen as highly credible. In many circumstances, consumers trust independent reviews more than they trust information from the business or brand that made the product or delivered the service.

Online content is also just as credible if not more. According to a 2011 survey, 88% of active blog readers trust the information they get from familiar blogs, and over 50% of active blog readers made a purchase based on the blog’s recommendations.

The outcome is a higher probability that consumers will find the positive content instead of the negative. Sure, the content is still out there, but if nobody reads it, then it really can’t do much harm.

Curation, then, and not rebuttals, price adjustments or product changes could be the best way to improve a brand’s online reputation.

Article first published as Curate to Control Negative User-Content on Technorati.

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