Who needs all that negativity?

It turns out you do.  At least if you are trying to gain traction and trust in the online world.

It may seem purely intuitive that bad press or reviews are not good for sales, but this short article from Fortune magazine says otherwise.  This article is geared toward online sales, but the idea can be expanded to include any online presence.

The idea is that a negative comment helps build trust in your site, making it less likely that a potential customer will look for information about your product elsewhere.

“If they leave your site to look for reviews, they most likely won’t come back,” says Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results, which provides customer satisfaction surveys for Web sites

The other item you’ll notice is that negative feedback can help you address problems that your end users may be having.  Rather than deleting the negative comment, make a follow up post that helps correct the problem.  This shows you care and are listening.  Beware, however, of ever coming across as defensive; it can be hard to listen to people criticize your hard work, but in the end knowing exactly what people think about your work or product is important to your future planning.

Sample Comment Page From Zappos.com
Sample Comment Page From Zappos.com
As you can see here, most comments are good; in fact, excellent.  The two “negative comments” are very constructive and describe the fit and fabric.  The positive reviews are more about function.  This leaves the decision up to the consumer as to whether the fabric is what they are looking for or not.

If the comments were almost all negative and the complaints were more along the lines of “This jacket is made from poor material and the sizing is wrong,” then Zappos might discontinue the item and work out a refund deal with dissatisfied customers, hopefully maintaing trust in their brand.  Without the comments, they might not know why they were losing the customers forever.