Case Study: Engagement Turns Critics into Allies

Tue, May 27, 2008

Bloggers, Conversation, Social Media

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Valeria Maltoni’s request on Twitter for examples of engaging detractors was the stimulus I needed to finish writing a short case study, Negative Product Review Revised after Company Founder Engages with Critic. (Click on the title to download the free PDF.)

What the case study can’t convey is the series of rapid-fire exchanges with an understandably upset client, Aruni Gunasegaram of Babble Soft, when her new software product received a seriously snarky review by Jennifer Laycock, author of The Lactivist, an influential blog in the market Aruni hoped to reach. Her first email came in while I was at dinner with friends. I started to ignore the flashing red light on my Blackberry but was glad I checked when I found Aruni’s message alerting me to the criticism and asking, “What do I do?”

To her credit, Aruni not only asked for advice, she followed it. She did not respond in anger, but did her homework and learned something about Jennifer, her blog, and her readers. When Aruni did add a comment to The Lactivist, it was well received. She and Jennifer also exchanged e-mails, establishing the basis for a relationship.

Several months later Aruni started her own blog, entrepreMusings, and she and Jennifer follow each other on Twitter now. And to show what a small world it is, I had dinner with Jennifer last month at BloggerSocial08 in New York. We shared a laugh over how the situation had unfolded and how the former critic had become an ally.

Here’s the summary of the Case Study:

Babble Soft, provider of Web and mobile software for parents of newborns

A press release for a new product launch was picked up by an influential blogger who wrote a very negative review.

Every Dot Connects worked with Babble Soft on a strategy to engage the blogger in constructive conversation.

The blogger apologized for the tone of the review and continued to interact with Babble Soft founder via her blog, email and, later, on Twitter and other social networks.

If you’d like to read more, including the guidelines I drafted for engaging with blogger critics, download the PDF: Case Study: Negative Product Review Revised after Company Founder Engages with Critic

This post was written by:

Connie Reece - who has written 152 posts on Every Dot Connects.

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8 Comments For This Post

  1. Marie Young Says:

    Hi Connie,

    Thank you for sharing this case study I will also share it with my followers. New Zealand companies haven’t embraced blogging “yet” so I like to share all the different aspects of blogging and most importantly how to handle similar events like you’ve described.

    Many thanks,
    Marie aka flyinglens on twitter

  2. Aruni Gunasegaram Says:

    Wow Connie! Thanks for writing this. I saw it in my daily Google Alert. I’m remembering my feelings of embarassment and being misunderstood when seeing her post over a year ago now. :-) I’ve learned a lot since then and I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know Jennifer better and establish a friendly online relationship with her.

    It is often hard when introducing new products/concepts into the world and as I’m learning it takes a very long time to get the word out.

    Thanks for all of your help navigating the online Internet/social media waters!


  3. Valeria Maltoni Says:

    Thank you for writing and sharing this, Connie. I think it’s worth sharing inside organizations to improve internal dynamics as well, don’t you?

  4. Gavin Heaton Says:

    Great case study Connie … thanks for sharing. It is surprisingly difficult to find social media case studies that don’t sound too hyped ;)

  5. Connie Reece Says:

    @Marie Thanks for your comment. Fear of negative response is one of the chief objections for companies considering a blog. But negatives can often be turned into positive, as they were in this case.

    @Aruni Thanks for letting me share your story. You’ve done some amazing things in social media over the past year.

    @Valeria Thanks for prodding me to write this. I agree that the same principles apply to internal dynamics inside companies.

    @Gavin. Wow! Both New Zealand and Australia are reading here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  6. Shane Keener Says:


    Thank you for sharing this case study. I am constantly trying to get across to the GMs at our hotels how important it is for them to monitor what is being said about their hotel online. Hoteliers are in a unique position due to the amount of feedback they receive online.

    We are moving toward a policy of responding to all online comments, where possible. I will be using your case study to point out the effectiveness of this level of involvement with our customers.

    Additionally, we have started a test of placing TripAdvisor reviews live on our stand alone web sites. This was extremely challenging and the first question everyone asked was, “Can I delete any negative comments?” This shows the naivete of business owners. Most people have a filter that let’s them know if they are reading a review that is impartial versus one that has valid concerns. Overall, review scores have moved up and even the detractors have a better attitude about the test.

  7. Karl Staib - Your Work Happiness Matters Says:

    We’ve all felt those anger thoughts just bubbling over and wanting so desperately to act on them. I know I have, but every time I attacked it only made things worse. It was great advice to take a breath, learn about the blogger and then interact. It probably saved her from a huge mistake that may have cost her a lot of money.

  8. Todd Jordan Says:

    Great share about this case. Hope folks download the PDF and get more insight.

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