As the dynamic CK points out, "Your Company" + SUCKS is the new Google barometer for how well you are satisfying your customers.  And sometimes, it's not very pretty.

So how do you change the conversation that your customers are having about your business?  By listening and participating, of course!  And that doesn't necessarily mean you have to start blogging.  In fact I would never advise a business to begin blogging UNTIL they have begun to monitor the online chatter about their business, as well as what others are saying about their competitors and industry.

If you want to change the 'You SUCK' reaction online from customers into 'You RULE!', follow these steps:

1 - Monitor.  Find out what is being said about your business RIGHT NOW!  I've already detailed exactly how to launch a plan to monitor the blogosphere in a previous SEG post.

2 - Participate.  Once you find these online conversations, join them.  Reply to bloggers, address their comments and concerns.  Launching such an initiative can be done in one day.

3 - Engage.  Challenge your customers to continue the conversation.  Encourage them to give you more feedback, and address and RESPOND to the feedback they give you. 

4 - Co-Create.  You can't change your bad perception by yourself.  And you can't do it by listening, either.  You have to bring your customers in and listen to and act upon their complaints.  You have to work with them to co-create your online reputation.  Remember that passion that's ignored can become anger which leads to a bad online reputation.  But if you embrace the passion of your customers, and apply that passion to creating and improving a dialog with them, then that passion can become evangelism for your business.

But remember that these conversations are happening online about your business, whether you are a participant or not.  Indifference and ignorance are no longer viable excuses, if they ever were.    

February 26, 2008

Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post,, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.


Great advice. It is too easy to panic and want to try and 'clean it off Google' (completely impossible by the way) if such a search produces results. It is so important to engage and get involved in the discussion.

It really isn't that much different to good customer service...but lots of people seem to forget that.

Right on target, Mack!

I once worked for a major shipbuilder. The new president was great! He made life a lot easier for the employees. Renovated offices, etc.

However, he one major problem: he hated negative reports. He'd shoot the messenger. Middle management soon learned to hide bad news from him.

The result was that when the company was in deep kimchee, he didn't know it. Everyone works somewhere else now.

Thanks for the comments, Nancy and Al! It's funny because when many companies see that there are negative blog posts about them, they want to ask 'How do we get rid of these?!?' The best way to change a negative perception in the blogosphere is to LISTEN to bloggers, and begin to INTERACT with us!

When that happens, the negative posts will begin to change into positive posts, and they will bury the negative posts. But so many businesses think the solution is to try to STOP the conversation, not join it.

I've seen some companies that post hundreds of "sucks" comments about themselves all over the web and in their own blogs or site copy. However, the comments are positive or neutral. I think they do this to bury the true negative comments with noise of their own.
Example of a forum post: "That really sucks, but if you deal with xyz brand, you'll be a lot happier."
Instead of falling for it, I assume there are some real problems out there that they are covering up and go elsewhere.
(Sorry about the double post. Didn't think to include it earlier).

Great point, Al and Mack. Other customer feedback is extremely important for the consumers. And when you see too many artificially positive comments from a company itself, as a consumer you raise a red flag and prefer not to engage by either doing some more research about the company or by going somewhere else. On the other hand though, if a company takes some steps forward in order to re-establish its image by interacting with its customers, this actions may be well accepted by the consumers who realizes that customer service is still alive there today despite the bad rating in the past.

Thanks for the great article, Mack. I believe that constant interacting with your customers is important for any company. I agree with Nancy in her earlier post that this is not that much different from customer service. Seeing company's records and customers feedback in real time is another great benefit that online shoppers have versus the ones that prefer old-fashioned brick-and-mortar.

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Search Engine Guide > Mack Collier > "Your Company + Sucks" is Your Worst Enemy, or Best Friend