Managing reputations online – QantasSucksWorld.com

Another example of a consumer based corporate abuse site, http://qantassucksworld.com, celebrates it’s first anniversary this week.

The site describes itself as “the Qantas News website by former and present Qantas customers”, and has a litany of bad news stories collated in order to damage the reputation of Qantas. They even offer $500 per best story per month, here. The site is registered through MelbourneIT to a “Berg Berg” of North Carolina, whose email address is bberg009@yahoo.com (and whose blog is here).

For those who may think this is the sign of things to come, an inevitable avalanche of <companyname>sucks.com websites, you’re partly right and partly wrong.

You’re right if you think there is more to come. Plenty more. For as long as there have been companies, there have been people complaining about those companies. The internet has allowed people to express their complaints in ever more creative and popular ways. It’s incredibly easy to bag a company online. And people will get better and better at complaining online.

However you’re wrong if you think it’s the first example. The internet is close to forty years old, and as long as there’s been the net, there have been complaints online. If we look at a perfect Australian example, the massively popular Whirlpool forum started around ten years ago as a response to the disastrous early performance of the BigPond internet service – and allowed people to discuss performance problems not only with BigPond but also for other ISPs. It is now one of the biggest online forums in Australia, with over 282,444 active members, discussing topics including:

  • Technology
  • Computers
  • ISPs
  • Mobile
  • Hardware
  • IT Industry
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Gaming
  • Gadgets
  • Automotive
  • Movies
  • Television
  • Home Theatre
  • Lifestyle
  • Sports
  • In the News: including Politics, Current Affairs, Issues and Society

…and Telstra still hasn’t worked out how to engage with the Whirlpool community, unlike iiNet and other ISPs who have done so very successfully.

As I’ve been saying for many years, it’s not a matter of when your organisation, products, brands or issues will be discussed, the point is how big the current discussion is; how many people are discussing it, where they are discussing it, and what information do they have at their disposal, ultimately what damage is it doing to your brand in the marketplace. It’s already happening – across social media of all types, by Australians of all ages, incomes and locations. Remember, over 41% of ALL Australians post comments about products, brands or services online, and a whopping 86% of people read these comments (stats here). And for those of you you think you’ve got it covered because you search Aussie blogs, you’re waaaaaaaay off track. Blogs aren’t very popular in Australia (nowhere near as popular as forums and social networking sites), and while agencies, communicators, marketers and organisations believe their American counterparts in thinking that blogs are the end all and be all of online conversation, they will be lost.

If you’re not aware of the conversations around your brand across all social media, do something about it – now!

2 thoughts on “Managing reputations online – QantasSucksWorld.com”

  1. Wow that Qantas site must be hard for the Qantas to deal with.

    Speaking on managing reputations online, I think there is an emerging trend that will directly encourage brand reputations to be tarnished and for online brands to encourage negative reactions.

    I’ve just read that a company in Australia called SR7 is now spying on people within social networks including Myspace, Youtube, Facebook… to find out if staff of their clients are posting on social networks that may have a negative impact .

    Be Careful SR7. Your client list may become a target for the online community to slam.

    Companies should be careful to implement spying tactics in social networks given that the backlash may cost them dearly.

    I do recommend listening to the online voice, learn from what they say but decide on what action to take with caution.

  2. Just an correction. Of the 1,154 postings on the site, less than 100 is from customers. The rest is from newspapers, magazines and government filings. So it would by misleading to call it a “consumer based corporate abuse” site, unless you also consider the world’s leadig newspapers as abusers instead of reporters.

    A more correct assumption may be that the customer complaints have been ignored and buried too long in corporate file systems that was kept away from public view. Insights to real complaints could only keep us more informed, and that must be a good thing….

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