Bad WOM in China Internet and the Post Burners Army

By the end of June 2009, China BBS online community sites have reached on average 43.806 million unique visitors and apparently lots of conversations take place on online BBS forums. With the growing popularity search engine usage among China netizens, it’s becoming very important to manage your online reputation online. I’m going to discuss briefly the bad word-of-mouth on online discussion boards.

Who Speak Ill of You

You customers. Just like any other markets, if you piss off your customers, they could try really hard to harm you online. Bad words of mouth build obstacles to acquiring new customers. You competitors. Your competitors could disguise as a pissed off customers of yours and “share” very passionately about your bad products or service in big online forums of your target markets. Media. Media could be damaging. Instead of offering fuel in snowy weather, they could pour cold water onto you. Many big news sites in China repost stories without verifying them; one popular post at a forum about how bad you are could turn up on all major news sites over night.

What Chinese Companies Do About Bad WOM

We all know the right way: engage customer and join the conversation online; improve the products and service from customer feedback. However, many companies are just not interested in the “right” way; instead, they pay to get the “bad” posts removed. Pay to get hackers to remove the posts. Some “professional” post burners hack into the online forum backend and have the posts removed. Some post burners have connections with owners of hundreds of online discussion forums. They will help “persuade” website owners to remove the posts. This paid service is not cheap, which is usually above 1000 yuan. There was a post which served as a company blacklist in Zhongshan City to alert consumers. While over 166 users joined the conversations, a post claiming to be a professional post burner turned up. This guy charged 1,000 yuan to remove first two pages and 100 yuan for every extra page. As there were four pages of blacklisted companies, the total charge was 1,200 yuan. How are you managing your online reputation in China? Feel free to share in the comment. Source:

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