Social Media; is it feeding you, or bleeding you?
Numerous business studies over many years report that customers tell far more people about bad customer experiences than they do good ones.
Those studies vary between telling ten to thirty people about bad experiences, versus sharing only two to five happy stories of customer delight. Whatever the actual numbers are is moot; what is undeniable is that tales of woe greatly outnumber tales of wonder.
In days past, sharing customer experiences, either positive or negative, took place one person at a time, spread over an extended period of time. No longer is this the case. Social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Snapchat, or countless others, now enables customers to share their thoughts with a very wide audience, often numbered in the thousands, and they can do it in a heartbeat.
This is of particular concern when disgruntled customers vent their spleens telling all and sundry their personal, often embellished, version of how bad their experience with business X was. And we all know that word of mouth is the single most powerful form of advertising known to mankind.
For those in the Tourism sector, Trip Advisor has become the go-to social media site for prospective customers and guests to check out the experiences, both good and bad, of prior visitors to a particular hotel, motel, restaurant, airline or destination.
For many businesses, Trip Advisor and other Social Media is a godsend, a powerful and effective medium for communicating with both existing and prospective customers.
For others, it is giant pain in the proverbial, an unwelcome intrusion into their business, another item to attend to on an already extensive do-list.
However, if left unattended, Social Media can cause irreparable harm if it is not monitored and managed effectively on a daily basis. Hence the vital necessity of developing and implementing effective strategies to manage social media as it relates to your business. And please don’t pull the ‘it doesn’t apply to me and my business’ card, because it does. Denial is a very dangerous state to live in.
As with most business strategies, it is far more effective to be proactive, than reactive. So these are just some of the questions to be asked:
Have we developed an overall Social Media strategy for our business?
Which Social Media are the most appropriate for our business?
How are we going to monitor the comments about our business?
Are we going to do that ourselves, or outsource it?
If we are going to do it ourselves (recommended), whose job will it be?
How regular will we post on Social Media?
Have we devised a range of responses to proactively deal with negative comments?
Another important point, particularly in regard to previous customer or guest comments, is to remember that whilst your post is in response to those compliments and/or concerns, it needs to be constructed from the viewpoint of those who will be reading it next. Responding negatively, in any way shape or form, will only do you harm, no matter how justified you may feel about what it is you would like to say.
Social Media, when understood, monitored and managed well, is a powerful tool that can add enormous value to your business. It will feed you.
Misunderstood, or even worse, ignored and/or abused, it will do irreparable harm. It will bleed you.