Be Social Media Savvy, or Pay the Price

Recently, when I was out to lunch with friends, I got a message which said: “Lady at the door offering her services as a cook. She seems nice enough, should we consider employing her? Here’s her name and number.”

The woman’s name seemed familiar. Then I recalled seeing the name before in a post on our neighbourhood Facebook group.

Once again, this group was going to save the day. The cook had been the topic of discussion on one very long thread of messages. And what did they have to say? She was employed at several houses, and had once inexplicably disappeared for three weeks. She gave her employers different (and creative) reasons for her vanishing acts! The social media thread had other comments about her lack of work habits – leaving food half cooked. When I tried to confirm this over the thread, I was advised against hiring her.

This cook is a service provider in the marketplace. As a result of her bad work habits, she had damaged her reputation. No matter which vertical you belong to, your brand can learn a thing or two from this example. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Your customers don’t just interact with you – they interact with each other

As a result of social media, brands have conversations with consumers in full view of the world. One may not be a customer today, but my choice to engage your services tomorrow will depend on what I’ve heard about you, and what existing customers have posted online. As a connected consumer, I read reviews and ask questions – not just to your representatives but to those who have experienced your service or product first hand. This is why testimonials and a consistent social media policy are so important. Take Amazon’s Customer Question and Answer section where, on each product page, customers can answer questions that prospective customers may have.

 

If something goes wrong, don’t hide the facts or be silent
Another mistake brands often make is not responding quickly (or choosing not to respond at all) when something doesn’t go as per plan. More often than not, the company’s social media accounts put out canned responses hoping to assuage the unhappy customer. However, if the issue is of a more serious nature, it’s important for leaders and ‘visible’ individuals associated with a brand to send out strong communication, and influence public perception. For example, take Richard Branson’s response to the Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash in October 2014. Branson took to communicating constantly with the public via his Twitter account, first offering his condolences and then providing frequent updates. There was consistent and unified communication, leaving little room for rumours or negative comments to spread and influence perceptions about the event, and affect the Virgin reputation.

 

Reputation and consistent service are of the utmost importance in today’s competitive business environment. Looking at the comments and feedback about the cook’s unprofessional attitude, we decided not to hire her services. It took us all of five minutes to make that decision – and that’s exactly how little time  prospective customers could take to decide if your brand is worth engaging with or not!

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