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Negative Social Media

I recently read an article in the Journal of Advertising Research titled, “The Power of Evil:  The Damage of Negative Social Media Strongly Outweigh Positive Contributions”, authored by Marcel Corstjens and Andris Umblijs.  Social Media is a hot topic, and while it is widely accepted that companies need to monitor and use Social Media to their advantage when possible, many questions remain as to the hows, the whys, and the what if we don’ts.  I enjoyed this article because the attempts to quantify the impact of social media on sales.

If asked, I would assume that social media of a positive nature would increase sales and that social media of a negative nature would decrease sales – however, what I think is interesting in this article, is that in both of the studies (one involving flat screen televisions and the other broadband internet service) that negative comments were more ‘powerful’ in impacting sales.  For example, in the flat screen television study, positive sentiment resulted in a 7.0% sales increase while negative sentiment resulted in a -6.9% sales decrease.  At a glance, those seem pretty comparable.  But the ‘amounts’ of positive and negative ratings were different – the ‘amounts’ of positive comments were much higher than negative comments.  In this particular study, there were over 4 times the ‘amount’ of positive social media relative to negative, yet the impacts on sales were comparable.   Wow – this confirms that it is important to keep an eye on the social media, especially negative sentiment.  

I think, though, what I take away from this article is that Social Media is here and it is different from traditional marketing in the fact that we can no longer just think of “targeting” consumers with predetermined messages.  Customers are now a very active, powerful group in their own right.   If social media has such an impact on sales, I’m wondering if it also has a potential impact on Customer Loyalty. 

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