Companies should fear inverse viral marketing

People are more and more skeptical of advertising and the growing importance of the Internet allows them to quickly sink a product or company’s reputation. Even customers who are predisposed to trust advertising still check online the reviews before they buy products.

Very few companies track their reputation online. But they should! They risk to lose big when a negative review spreads through popular discussion sites, chat rooms and e-mail.

When two travelers with reserved rooms at an hotel were turned away, they related it in a PowerPoint presentation that is now found all over the Web. It’s inverse viral marketing.

And now camera phones are making it even easier to document problems such as dirty restaurants or hotel rooms. Once pictures or stories are online, they stick around and can potentially reach millions of people.

But negative feedback from consumers are not totally bad for companies: a bunch of similar complaints can suggest that time has come to change a product or service.

id1004[1].jpgWisconsin Technology Review, via Picturephoning.