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Complaint Posts: Consumer Advocacy or Blogger Crack?

When bloggers complain about a company (Vonage, Westin) we get great feedback, tons of comments, and lots of attention. It’s ego-building, lots of fun, easy to do, and makes your blog popular.

Fallingdown Readers pour on the positive reinforcement when you make a post like this. I hope that readers want more than gossip and bad news, but one look at popular TV makes me wonder if we all just enjoy a kick in the groin. Or we’re really angry at business, and we love to see someone fight back.

It gets old after a while.  Who wants to read a blog full of complaints and gotchas (unless that is the purpose of your blog.)  Who wants to write one?

Happy feelings, positive vibes, great ideas, usefulness, and inspriration are why I write. I want to help everyone be a little bit better marketer and run a healthier, happier business.

But it’s hard not to take a hit of complaint crack. It’s addictive and a great rush. But like all addictions, the rush of popularity is a short-term thing. It doesn’t last. A great blog has to be useful and fun to read, and complaining never is. Readers will leave a negative conversation.

I still want to fight the good fight, and stick it to the man (when deserved), but I’d rather share something positive.  I promise to write at least 5 ultra-positive blog posts for every negative one.

Bloggers … your thoughts?

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  1. Mark Krupinski June 24, 2007 at 9:06 am #

    Great blog.
    I completely agree with you. I would also take it a step further and stress that if you have to write a negative post at least have the professionalism and maturity to offer a solution to the problem you’re bitching about.
    That’s what the blogosphere is all about – right?
    Anybody can complain.
    Remember, when most companies screw up in one area or another that last thing they want to hear or even acknowledge is a complaint. Heck, they don’t even want to anknowledge it with their own employees much less the customers that pay thier bills.
    When you complain with a solution, you’re acknowledging a weakness that you see as being easily rectified.
    Maybe that business never thought of your idea.
    Maybe your helping them.
    Maybe not.
    Regardless, a complaint is usually generated by someone who cares about the product in the first place.
    Otherwise they would simply walk away and do nothing.
    Mark Krupinski

  2. Kent Blumberg June 24, 2007 at 6:23 pm #

    Compliments are sooooo rare, which makes authentically positive blogs a joy to read (and write). Complaints do have their place, though, and I learned a lot from your series about Westin. And I think you are on the right track to try for more positive than negative posts.

  3. Jason Alba June 25, 2007 at 5:42 pm #

    I agree with you. I also agree with Mark – but I don’t want bloggers to complain about my software, except in an e-mail or phone call to me :)
    Here’s another take on it. Is it on-brand or off-brand for you to complain? And how scathing is the complaint? Is it well-founded or petty? Do you update your complaint posts with “they rectified it by…”
    I think some bloggers can get away with mucho negative. I can’t on my main JibberJobber blog. But I have posted some customer-complaint-posts on a personal blog. It’s off-brand for my main blog but on-brand for me as a software/business guy.
    Jason Alba
    CEO –
    :: self-serve job security ::

  4. Wendy Terwelp June 26, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi Andy,
    As usual on the right path. And your message is consistent too – good branding.
    I agree with posting the postive. If there is a negative comment, keep it professional, not personal. Mark’s solution-focused idea is a proactive one. I think people can live with helpful critism.
    Personally, as a career coach, my focus stays positive. In career search mode, people need it.
    – W.
    PS: Speaking of positive, saw your presentation at MIMA a while back. Good material.

  5. Scott Allen June 28, 2007 at 12:15 am #

    I do think it’s possible to disagree politely. I’m never contrarian just to be controversial, but intelligent, courteous discourse is, I think, beneficial for all. You have to be careful with it, though — you can’t really go after someone’s core beliefs — there’s no tactful way to do that. You can say, though, something like, “I have my doubts about tip #7. In my experience, blah blah blah.”
    I welcome that on my blog and have no hesitation leaving something like that for others.

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