They say a new child is born into this world every minute. They also say somebody, somewhere puts something onto the internet that they regret, every five seconds. In an age where a products fate can be decided in a matter of minutes, by simply clicking a ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ button on Facebook, social media is one promotional medium that needs to be given its immediate due. One negative review if failed to deal with can give a company nightmares.
Most organisations today fail to realize that social media is more than marketing since this medium determines a consumers key business judgments. For example, a few months ago, a famous European automobile manufacturer launched its first hatchback. The car did well and online social forums ran rife with compliments. That is up until one day someone posted a rather acerbic viewpoint about the car’s rear design. Being the only one negative amidst a sea of encouragement, the manufactures simply turned a blind eye. Over the next 24 hours, the negativity had surpassed the positive. In a desperate bid to bring around the situation, a company employee finally logged onto the car’s Facebook page and anonymously typed out a few words of praise. Now for those of you who’ve read ‘The Tipping Point’, this was the moment Malcolm Gladwell often spoke of. The moment the automobile company’s employee realised his jobs credential were clearly visible, under his screen name and the moment everyone had noticed. The public was outraged at being thought to be so gullible. The manufacturer was quick to react this time. The car was recalled and the model discontinued.
The point is one wrong move and it spreads like wild-fire on social media. So these are a few examples of what companies need practice when online.
Firstly, listen and react to what is being said about your product or service, online. Many companies have understood the influence and power of social media, but there are still companies that think it is as a mystifying force and something beyond their control.
Secondly, make your sites social media friendly – Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, StumbleUpon etc. If a user likes what he sees but has to spend 35 extra seconds looking for the ‘like’ button, or more important, the ‘forward to a friend’ button, he looses interest.
Next, never let traffic trump taste. Being opportunistic when online, is a good thing. But being shameless can harm your reputation. This is an example of a tweet gone a little too barefaced – “Yet another young talent lost. Remember Amy Whinehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Black’ album over at Zune”. Companies should pick their moments.
Lastly, you don’t have to be transparent with your customer base, but be honest. And be timely. A responsive company eager and willing to help or reward its fan following, goes a long way. Audi recently won itself a number of accolades for its extraordinary online presence and responses, when the company immediately rewarded a local British lady with the keys to a brand new Audi R8 for a day, after noticing that she’d come up with the rather clever Twitter hash-tag “#wantanR8”.