In managing social media, many companies often adopt the approach of not responding to negative online mentions as they believe that it will fade over time. While this approach will deny the comments of additional attention, unfortunately the damage to the organization's brand and reputation will not fade.
During the Second World War, Psychologist Carl Howland studied the impact of propaganda films on soldiers. What the study found was that while there was no noticeable change to the soldiers' attitude immediately after viewing the film, noticeable changes were identified 9 weeks later. Carl Howland concluded that this was due to psychological effect where the source of the argument fades faster than the arguments in the memories of the soldiers. This phenomenon is termed the sleeper effect.
The sleeper effect is further validated in election campaigns around the world where negative campaigning continues to shape election results. Even if the source of the negative information is included in the collateral as dictated by law, it does not have an effect on voters. Similar to what happened with the soldiers in WW2, the source will be forgotten but not the content. Ironically, even if the arguments are discredited outright by the fact that it is being promoted by the opposing candidate, the fact that the source is more readily forgotten, the message will still ring true in the voters' ear.
Extrapolating from this, it is therefore imperative that organization's vigorously defend themselves against any and all negative online mentions. As shown, ignoring the mention, will not mitigate its negative effect on the organization's brand and reputation.