The Danger of Ineffective Social Media Strategies

danger of inefective

By Nuno Sousa

Long gone are the days where an unhappy customer was just that – an unhappy customer. These days every customer has a “voice”, more importantly each customer has an audience (and a very large one).

Brands seem to have mastered viral marketing when it comes to promoting themselves but some seem to have forgotten that there are two faces of the coin. The very same power that viral messages have for the good and the positive, it also works when it comes to the bad or the negative.

Viral is great for the good but it could be devastating for the reputation of a brand if there is no clear strategy when it comes to reputation management.

Just recently we saw another great brand’s reputation collapse under the power of social media networks. I am referring to Virgin Media and the “infamous broadband bill” including a fine for late payment, sent to a deceased customer. Now, this is something that a few years ago would be shared over a pint at the local pub, but not in this era. This bill has been posted online and it was shared by over 53,000 “outraged” facebook users.

All big corporations insist in promoting their great customer service but very few have spotted an opportunity here – to provide customer service and dealing with their customers via social media networks. In my opinion, a company that truly prides itself of great customer service is missing a trick here. By answering customers in the public eye you are not only saving time and costs but you are also allowing a huge audience to watch this process in real time.

Many brands would think of this as something crazy as it would provoke unnecessary exposure to potential flaws in their products, services and customer support. However, for as long as they are transparent and honest at all times, I see no danger. A brand’s reputation is not in danger when a product or service fails to deliver. It comes under danger when the brand fails to act promptly and honestly, in the face of such incidents. For as long as you’re seen as trying to resolve a problem in the best possible manner, the consumer will forgive you and more importantly, praise you for this fact.

In the example cited above, the problem was not the act of sending a bill to a deceased customer (this happens more often that one would expect), the problem was the ineptitude and the lack of feedback in a prompt and adequate manner. This would’ve seen the consumer believing that this was a genuine mistake and not an action of an “unscrupulous corporation”.

There are numerous lessons to be learned from this incident and my advice to brands would be not to underestimate an angry customer, always act promptly and publicly in these circumstances, and more importantly; be transparent and honest at all times.

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