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The Positive Effect of Negative Reviews


Consumer reviews are incredibly important. I reported in a previous post that over 70% of consumers trust the reviews of others more than any form of advertising. Further to this, in acomScore survey, over 75% of review users reported that reviews have a significant influence on their purchase, and depending on the category, that number can be as large as 87%.

It is clear that reviews are important, but what if you receive negative reviews?

In my experience, I’ve had clients respond in a number of very different ways to negativity. Some want negative reviews pulled from their social media properties immediately. Some view negative comments as constructive criticism. No matter how you view the receipt of negative comments,don’t panic when you see them inevitably appear.

There are actually a number of reasons why the receipt of negative reviews can be very positive:


Consumers have been trained though experience, advertising, media, education, and many other external influences, to be skeptics of anything that appears to be ‘too good’. While I certainly won’t argue against the obvious value of receiving mainly positive reviews, the odd negative review can actually mitigate consumer skepticism by pointing out the flaws that exist in every product, service or anything they might be making a decision on. That’s right, you’re not perfect, and neither am I –gasp! The end result is that consumers will be able to formulate what they feel is a more complete picture of your product or service, and will make their purchase decision with increased confidence.


The pursuit of continuous improvement in today’s hyper-competitive business landscape is not a competitive advantage, it is a necessity. Negative reviews can function as a modern day comment box and provide you with valuable information and insight on how you can improve. Even negative comments that come across as spam or trolling can provide valuable insight if time is taken to understand their context. For instance, if comments that come across as trolling were posted by individuals that fall dramatically outside of your target demographic, it could solidify that you’re targeting strategy is correct, or save you from an ill-informed attempt to broaden the appeal of your brand.


Receiving a negative review can be a huge opportunity to convert those individuals into brand evangelists. Because of the inherent consumer skepticism that exists, if you are able to over-deliver on how you address a negative review, you have an opportunity to parlay that negativity into a huge emotional swing for the consumer and shift them toward becoming a brand evangelist. Additionally, a similar transformation can occur as a result of instilling a sense of ownership in the brand to consumers whose negative comments are properly addressed.


As a community manager, it is important to leave negative reviews visible for all to see. This demonstrates a willingness of your business or brand to be transparent with consumers, which will result in increased consumer trust, greater value given to positive reviews, and a perception of increased legitimacy of brand or corporate communications.

Despite the positive effect that negative reviews can have for your business or brand, this is like anything in life; it’s all about balance. In the case of reviews, you will certainly want them to primarily be positive. The purpose of this post, however, is simply to point out that the receipt of a negative review here and there isn’t the end of the world, but instead should be embraced as opportunity and even as being positive.

How do you handle negative reviews?

Do you view them as being opportunities or a shot in the arm?

Do you find constructive ways to utilize this information? 


Join The Conversation

  • RGBSocial's picture
    Feb 23 Posted 4 years ago RGBSocial

    Hey Jason - I'm happy you found this to be of interest. At this point I really can't think of a reason why any organization wouldn't be engaging with their consumers and clients in the social sphere. Conversations about businesses and brands are happening online whether brands participate or not. 

    Particularly for ecommerce sites, conversion from social media activity is particularly easy to measure and can be highly effective. 

    Thanks for the comment. 


  • Feb 6 Posted 4 years ago Social Annex

    Fascinating! A new take on the old saying ‘no publicity is bad publicity’. This information is great reason for ecommerce sites to promote themselves more in the social sphere; all reaction they get will be positive for their business. 

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