How Going Negative Can be Good for Business

According to a recent study by Rohit Aggarwal, a professor of business at the University of Utah, negative blog posts by a company’s employees can actually have a positive long-term effect.

This conclusion obviously flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Since the advent of blogging, many companies have gone to great lengths in order to prevent their employees from saying bad things about the company. Many companies either require an employee to follow a blogging policy, or they prevent the employee from blogging about the company at all.

Aggarwal’s study may change this conventional wisdom.

Negativity as a Loss Leader

It seems that negative blog posts can act as something like a loss leader. A loss leader is when you sell something at cost or below cost in order to attract customers. The idea is that once you have attracted customers to your business, enough of them will buy other products or services at their regular prices and more than make up for the loss you took on the original loss leader product.

Negative posts by employees, unsurprisingly, tend to attract more attention than do positive posts. Therefore, these negative posts bring in links and more viewers (like a highly discounted loss leader product). As long as most of the posts are not negative, the new visitors will more than likely begin to get an overall positive image of the company.

In addition, as most consumers expect to see only positive blog posts on a corporate or employee blog, seeing a critical post comes across as honest and open, Aggarwal says. The employees are seen as having integrity.

How Much is Too Much?

But how much negativity is too much? Going back to the loss leader analogy, you can’t sell too many products for less than cost, or you will come out with a net loss.

Says Aggarwal, “We found that the optimal percentage for negative posts is about 15 percent to 20 percent. Beyond that, you may get more readership but there also is more negative impact on the company in terms of reputation and possibly sales.”

Lessons for Independent Bloggers

While these findings may be interesting, many independent bloggers or bloggers for smaller companies may feel none of it applies to them. However, the idea of somewhat controversial or critical posts in a niche could act in the same way.

If there is something or someone that you feel critical of in your niche, it may help to go ahead and voice that criticism. As well, it may help to admit your own mistakes from time to time — i.e. go negative on yourself when appropriate.

 

 

(Photo: Negative from BigStock. Quotation from Business News Daily.)