Is the online space all about negative brand comments from netizens?

According to the largest global study into people’s attitudes and behaviours online, complaints form the smallest part of South African netizens’ online comments about brands, as depicted in the image below. As the study shows, 2 out of every 5 online comments are meant to help friends and strangers with information on brands!

Digital Life – Role of Consumer Voice

This must come as a welcome relief to many brands that still treat online communications narrowly as a free-for-all lambasting platform.

I am speculating that we hear a lot about online complaints, because these probably receive most share of voice compared to all other online comments. While I did not scratch the surface to support this opinion, it is based on my real-life experience relating to the airplay received by complaints as compared to compliments generally. Do you agree?

The study further shows that trust levels for online comments from friends and strangers is remarkable. Other studies show  that the trust levels for comments from brands do not match favorably with those from netizens.

There are 2 key lessons here:

  1. If brands give access to information online, this will be to their greatest advantage as this empowers netizens who are naturally willing to share it; and
  2. Brands must put online complaints in their right context, and avoid giving these comments undue importance given the total volume posted by the netizens.

You can read more about TNS’s Digital Life report on this link.

Let me contrast the TNS study with a growing brand online endorsement trend. What do you think about brands using influential netizens to post their marketing messages online? Do these comments carry the same or lower trust scores?



  • Nuffdotty – where thoughts on the subject of education, mostly relating to South Africa, are shared
  • Diski4Life – a blog about development of South African soccer post World Cup 2010

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