|Courtesy of: findsomewinmore.com|
If a company does not have a strong media presence, it takes time and money to set one up the right way. Depending on the size of the organization, different levels of approval and support may be needed even to get things moving. Developing social media sites require work, such as creating the social personality and voice of the company, brand, and products (Kerpen, 2011, 86). Once the sites are up, it takes considerable effort to monitor social networking sites. Kerpen recommends having employees available to respond to people’s negative complaints within 24 hours or less (p. 79).
In terms of the positives, social media allows companies to interact with their customers more than ever. In addition, these organizations can get real-time market research information without even having to pay for it. Cal Henderson of Flickr says the company releases new features up to every 30 minutes (O’Reilly, 2005). If people use them, the rest of the site gets the functionality; otherwise, it is removed. Marketers can learn about what customers are looking for, find new products or features, and even discover the best way to communicate (Kerpen, 2011, p. 15). Moreover, IBM’s Listening for Leads program is a prime example of how a company can find new business opportunities by keeping an eye on social media outlets (p. 22). You can read more about the program here.
One of the downsides to social media is how easily individual complaints can become public (Kerpen, 2011, p. 14). Although negative comments are inevitable, how a company responds is crucial (p. 77). If an organization does not take the time to respond, “you risk having one horrible customer experience totally erode your reputation, and eventually your bottom line, regardless of the size of your company” (p. 69). For instance, singer Dave Carroll was on a United Airlines flight and his guitar had been broken. Carroll told airline representatives, but no action was taken. As a result, Carroll posted this video, which was viewed more than 100,000 times in its first day. United certainly felt the negative ramifications from this one incident. Although it is not always easy to have the appropriate staff on hand, responding to criticism quickly in public and then privately messaging the individual shows that the company takes these issues seriously (p. 79).
On the other hand, customers can be a company’s biggest fans, posting on their Facebook walls or Twitter pages. Because “word-of-mouth endorsements and conversation from satisfied customers remains the most potentially powerful marketing tool,” it is just as important for companies to respond to good comments (Kerpen, 2011, p. 85). As customers become loyal, they will not only be a source of information for new customers, but even defend the brands and products that they have come to love (p. 68).
Kerpen, D. (2011). Likeable social media: How to delight your customers, create an irresistible brand, and be generally amazing on Facebook (& other social networks). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Retrieved from http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a//web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html