A report from PR firm Cone found that positive and negative user comments play a major role in the converting prospects.
Eighty percent of consumers have made a decision regarding a product or service based on a negative company feedback they read on the web, a recent report from Cone said. Online marketers should take this as their cue to foster positive engagement and user-generated content on the web by providing consumers valuable information and support for company services.

When Cone conducted the same study a year ago, 68 percent of users reported a similar sentiment. The 12 percentage point increase cements the notion that digital content and users’ growing ability to contribute to websites has altered the way they interact with brands and spend money.

Through social media marketing, businesses can work to offset any possible effects of negative user comments. Engaging potential prospects who may have seen a bad review or posted one themselves can help improve reputation.

Providing quality service or products is the best way to generate positive reviews. However, engaging prospects and addressing the issues they complain about can also generate favorable discussions. The poll found that 87 percent of consumers have converted due to a positive review or comment.

Social media content is becoming increasingly indicative of a strong brand reputation. Brafton recently reported that half of Facebook users report Liking their favorite brands on the website because they are already loyal customers.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.