Social Media and your Business Reputation

Years ago, the only way to really get a companies attention on a product was to picket, rally, or boycott.  Even then with all of that, most of the world would never hear a message that minuscule.  Well enter social media. Now if you have a product that you don’t like, fails, or has major defects, you can broadcast your complaint not just directly to that company, but to everyone that may be following them online.

Let me give you an example.  Same you buy a new anvil from Acme.  It arrives fine, but when you open it up, its all scuffed up, poorly packaged, and doesn’t weight a full “1 ton” like advertised.  Obviously you’re going to be a little upset because your Road-Runner trap won’t work.  Instead of writing an angry complaint letter to Acme, you can go to your Facebook wall and tell the whole story for all of your 300+ friends to see.  They immediately read it, and decide they too will no longer use Acme and will seek other vendors.  Two weeks later, this small ripple effect starts catching even more wind, and Acme stock prices start to take a hit.  A website gets created from another angry user that now has a forum for all other users to unit.  They talk about Acme on that site and on the new Facebook groups, Fan pages, Twitter lists, etc. all about how bad Acme’s products are.

Sad thing about that scenario is that Acme never acknowledges the “small” complaints, and before two weeks, what was a snowball has now turned into an avalanche.  We are now living in an age where companies can no longer play the elitist role and not listen to their customers and consumers.  The mainstream media used to be the choice medium for these types of news, and even they can’t keep up with “right now” stories.

What does this mean for you as a business owner?  A few things actually. For starters, you can grow your brand easily by keeping a listening ear to your industry.  Listen for complaints to the big boy companies so that you steer clear of those woes.  Hone in on your immediate competitors and find out what they’re doing and NOT doing.  You can then adjust your sales strategies to fit the gaps, and emerge as the one company who actually services the key niche overlooked by all others in your market.

How do you do it? Simple. Follow your competitors social streams.  Why not, I mean if you don’t, they will be following you.  Especially as you start to grow your brand and recognition.  Engage in consumer complaints.  And when I say engage, I don’t mean “sell.”  What I mean is to provide alternatives to their complaints.  Answer their questions and provide quick fixes to issues.  They’ll appreciate you more and most will end up looking to you next time they need that particular service again.  No one forgets a bad service experience.  Likely, people sing praises about good experiences.  I promise, you’d rather be at the tail end of a lengthy complaint that highlights the faults of your competitor, and ends off with a praise to you for providing a solution.

This all takes time, research, and dedication.  A lot of businesses are waking up to this new era of “right now” media.  Most want to do something about it, but a large percentage won’t take the proper initiative.  It may not look like so now, but it is worth the money to hire a social media marketer.  If necessary, vet a company out.  Ask around, contact their clients for feedback.  Or simply contact us here at Design Theory.  I know, shameless plug.  (could you blame me?)  The bottom line is that we all know good news travels – but bad news travels farther and faster.  As always I’d love to hear your comments about this.  Especially if you have a similar story you’ve experienced!

5 replies
  1. Dom
    Dom says:

    An important point to make here as well is that social media marketing, although at a very young stage right now, in the future will serve to level the playing field (if it isn’t doing so already).

    The small guy with a great service or product who knows how to handle customer service issues & complaints will start to make waves across a sea that was only yesterday dominated by big time conglomerates. Conglomerates who don’t pay attention to the little complaints.

    Handle this well now and when your business grows, make sure to make adjustments so that your level of service doesn’t drop and all this will help make you unstoppable.

  2. jpDesignTheory
    jpDesignTheory says:

    Exacly right Dom! No longer can the big boys assume they’ve got total control over their market like they did 10 years ago. The playing field is becoming much more leveled, and the gap between consumers and providers is shrinking. Its the best time for us freelancers.

    I think I may write a new post on this, but do you think we’re entering into a second era of a DOT COM boom?

    • Dom
      Dom says:

      I think we are! The bottom line is that when the 1st .com era came around, big business ate it up because it was taking thier product into the living rooms of the consumer.

      On that same note, the little guy can also bring thier product into that same living room but because the little guy isn’t hidden behind levels of corporate bureaucracy, they can pay more attention to the customer thus effectivly snatching business away from bigcompany.com.

  3. Patricia Redsicker
    Patricia Redsicker says:

    I like what you say about following your competition. This is SO VERY important to gain useful insights about what they’re doing that’s working (or not). The idea is to stay ahead of the curve in your industry. I have learned much from a lady in Perth, Australia who is making huge waves over there with her copywriting business. Granted she’s not my direct competition, but heck these days ANYONE on the internet doing what you’re doing is a potential competitor. So I make sure to check out her Facebook page and her website at least once a day.

    Thanks for this insightful article.

  4. jpDesignTheory
    jpDesignTheory says:

    Thanks for commenting! I actually had a meeting with a prospective client yesterday about this very same thing. They’re a local mechanic shop in Hartford. We couldn’t find any other local mechanic doing social media, so after I explained how important it was and beneficial it would be they loved it.

    I no longer worry about my competition local or abroad. My business style and brand is unique enough and has a great reputation that continues to gain me recognition. But I keep a watchful eye on them to gauge my progress and skill levels.

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