Drinking the Haterade: Turning Negative Feedback into a Positive

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We had a good laugh this week when we read Julien Smith’s blog Priceless Lesson Learned from Scathing 1-Star Reviews on Amazon. Smith frankly discusses how bad reviews — more specifically, well-written bad reviews — made him a better writer. More than just funny or mean-spirited, we have to agree with Smith that a sharply-written, scathing review is an Internet delicacy and offers a valuable lesson for the brand on the receiving end of the review.

Last year, I worked with an L.A. restaurant on a social media marketing campaign. While it had a cult following, there was certainly a large amount of hateration in their direction. Reviewers on Yelp routinely tore this place a new one for not being fast enough and for not taking credit cards. So when the eatery decided to take plastic, we launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign to bring in the haters. We published the bad reviews on the restaurant’s Facebook ad and challenged the authors to return and give it another shot. Most Yelpers are not confrontational types but we had a few that rose to the challenge, came in to eat, and then changed their reviews.

Still, from a marketing standpoint, bad reviews are worth their weight in gold for the insight they provide into what people think about your business. Sure, you have to take a big majority of them with a grain of salt but there’s is no shortage of learning opportunity. After all, big brands are using Facebook to help pick new product names and logo designs because it taps right into the audience. While we’re not sure a full-on Domino’s style confrontation is necessary when it comes to bad reviews, we do think embracing online disses can be a catalyst to bring about change.

So, readers, what say you? What bit of biting criticism has helped your business in the long run?

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