Are you actually helping your company via social media?
Much of contemporary social media effort and brand reputation management is focused on uncovering the positive. Number of friends. Number of followers. Blog posts. Blog comments. Share of voice. Net promoter score. Brands (and their agencies) are creating reports and smiling when those reports show how well the brand fares in social media.
It’s the “People Love Me” syndrome, and it entails listening for good news.
But in this economy, it’s often entirely the wrong approach.
Making Bad News Good
I submit that even your best customers are looking for a reason to drop you like a high school boyfriend with a cold sore. If you’re not the least expensive, customers will bail to save money. If you are the low price leader, they’ll seek better customer service. Whatever the circumstances, these are the days when loyalty is trumped by our more animalistic instincts.
I don’t have any data on this, but I’ll bet GEICO does great in the next couple years. Save a few dollars on my car insurance, but have to switch providers? Sign me up.
My recommendation is to use social media to find the BAD news about your company, and use that information to fix as many problems with your product or operations as you possibly can. Giving your customers fewer reasons to leave is the key to survival, and social media is your canary in the coal mine.
Now more than ever you should be engaging with the negative commenters. Have an email or telephone conversation with them. Learn as much as you can about their complaints and how your company can improve.
Don’t discourage negativity by marginalizing and ignoring it. Take it to heart and use it to make your company better.
Social media is the world’s biggest focus group. Are you paying attention?
(photo self-portrait by nomoretrouble)