Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What are You Not Saying that Someone Else is?

I am often amazed by organizations which lack any form of social media presence. Whilst the potential for negative user generated content is oft cited as a central concern, surely these organizations recognize that this content will invariably find its way online; one way or another. In the ongoing battle to delight the customer, it is far better for them to complain directly to you than it is for them to do so elsewhere. Grievances that are aired outside of the organization's direct control have the power to damage brand equity, but offer little value to the organisation unless found...

Negative content need not always result in negative outcomes. More often than not, a great deal of insight can be gleaned into the reasons for the perceived or actual service failure. By providing a platform through which consumers can vent their frustrations, the organisation creates a real time insight into how it addresses concerns. Imagine the potential for such a platform; grievances could be visibly and traceably resolved in front of a relevant audience. The possibility of converting negative word of mouth into positive word of mouth is very real. By facilitating the connection between organisation and customer, the likelihood of negative content appearing elsewhere is simultaneously diminished.

As always, the presence of an organizational social mediaplatform does not eliminate the need to continue monitoring the social media. For those interested in learning more of the importance of 'listening', I would recommend Li and Bernoff's 2008 book'Groundswell'. Effectively listening to the social media should will allow the organisation to identify perceptions of the brand online. Broad coverage thereof will allow the appropriate direction of effort towards those areas which require the most urgent attention. Clearly, the more aware the organisation is of online brand perception, the greater the likelihood that action can be taken as and when required.

The lesson to take away from this post is that negative content about your brand will invariably appear online. Beyond restricting access to social media tools and technologies, there is no way to prevent people from expressing themselves via the Internet. It is however possible to influence both the volume and location of this content. By providing a forum that is both fluid and transparent, you can ensure that the customer continues to see you as the first point of call following a concern. Remember, it is your responsibility as an organisation to listen to and engage with those that are keeping you in business.

Will you provide your customers with a highly visible platform through which to challenge you? I do hope so...

Show the Rogue some Stumble love


  1. Solid points Chris. Dave Fleet raised a good point along these lines when answering a question from a company. The question/statement was: "Why should we get into social media? What if someone says something bad about us?"

    Dave's response - "They already are."

    You can be sure that someone's talking negatively about your company online - it's impossible to please all the people all of the time. What you can and SHOULD do, however, is engage in these negative comments, find out why they feel that way, and work on a solution together.

    It's called customer satisfaction - sadly too many companies have forgotten about it...

  2. Hey Danny,
    Definately; it is far better to directly engage negative content than it is to ignore it in the hope that it will go away. Whilst venting may help the customer to feel slightly better in the short run, it is essentially to everyone's benefit that their issues are resolved. Issue resolution, including possibly redress, should lead to customer satisfaction whilst offering the organisation both product and market insight. A win-win in my opinion.

    I am hoping to pull together a post on how to address negative content at some point over the coming days, Danny, so stay tuned!

    Thank you for the comment, buddy!