Rohit Aggarwal

January 21, 2007

Importance of negative blogging

Filed under: Blogs,Corporate blogs — Rohit Aggarwal @ 4:39 pm

How many times have you seen a CEO of company such as Sun admitting to a failure that is pointed out by a small start-up developer?

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun, is surely one such example. He writes the following in one of his posts:

“And before you send me the email, yes, I saw the entry written by Matt Mullenweg – and all I can say is… I’m really sorry, Matt. That’s not the way Startup Essentials is supposed to work. We screwed up, and you’re completely right to suggest if that’s the norm, we should kiss goodbye our aspirations of reestablishing our business in the startup community.

If there’s anything I can do to win a second chance, I’d like to know….”

Now, I ask you a question- Why does he need to give importance to this issue or admit this mistake?

I will try to explain the answer from two perspectives- Marketing, and Cognitive Psychology


The answer is ‘credibility’. Now in the next post if Jonathan claims that Sun’s product A is better than that of competition, a reader is more likely to believe him. Glen Urban has coined term ‘Customer Advocacy’ for this behavior. According to his research, if a recommender besides telling the positive aspects of the product, also admits to the downsides of the product, then customers may find such recommender more credible and trust-worthy. Eventually, the customers are more likely to buy the product and are more likely to talk about their experience to their friends, i.e. may generate more word-of-mouth (WOM) about product.


Readers may not expect Jonathan to admit such failure of Sun. Therefore, according to Information Processing Theory this post may catch more attention of the readers and hence, the readers are more likely to spread a word about his blog. 

The above two perspectives and common wisdom suggests that more readers may flock to Jonathan’s blog due to such post and in the process these readers may read other posts also. Since majority of other posts are in favor of Sun, readers may form overall positive opinion about Sun.

Hence, such a negative post may generate more positive WOM for Sun. This is what I studied in my paper- “Blogs, Bloggers and the Firm: An Analysis of Firm Policies“.

Rohit Aggarwal


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