Wow, just writing this headline makes me feel like I'm selling some scummy 'get rich quick' product. Don't worry, I'm not. Don't have 140 million customers yet? That's okay too. This will probably work even if you only have a few customers.
Inspired by a recent Facebook calamity, I though I’d talk about one of the fundamentals of social media marketing.
First, about the calamity: Facebook recently made an update to their Terms of Service (the little link at the bottom of the page that no one ever read, until now). To summarize, the change indicated that Facebook could now use information and content uploaded to the site for as long as they wanted to. Previously, this section stated that, upon canceling an account, users’ personal information and content would be removed. A swift and fierce backlash across the social web forced Facebook to quickly revert back to the old Terms of Service while they reconsidered this move.
From a social marketing perspective, it’s important to pay attention to what has happened here. First, Facebook made a change to a policy that almost no one pays attention to. Next, a detail-oriented blogger drew attention to the change causing word spread quickly and uncontrollably across the web. Outrage on the social Web forced Facebook to almost immediately reconsider the change in order to prevent ill-will towards their network. A simple post, which took all of 30 minutes to write, announced Facebook’s decision helped them to regain much of the confidence of their customers.
At this point in time, the social Web has responded well to the quick response on the part of Facebook to reconsider. While some damage has been done, it’s nothing compared to the alternative where users on a large scale could have potentially moved on to another network offering more privacy. Companies like Facebook clearly understand that the power of the social web and yield to its demands. Do you?
All companies are subject to the same elements that effect social networks just like Facebook is. Consumers are commenting, rating, blogging and discussing purchase decisions long before making them. The worst thing a company can do is to not be involved in the communities where its potential customers are active.
Most importantly, ignoring negative feedback on the Web can destroy a company or brand’s reputation. It’s not enough to ‘be aware’ of what consumers are saying. In the previous example, Facebook could have just ignored the comments and stuck to their guns. I can’t say for sure what would have happened, but I can that the effects would have been damaging.
It’s pretty amazing how many marketers still ‘put earmuffs on’ every time they find a negative comment on the web. Many still discount the negative comments and continue feel good about the positive ones. Unfortunately, consumers do not behave this way. A single negative comment can be enough to keep a consumer from buying a brand of car, booking a hotel room or eating at a restaurant. Responding to feedback, both positive and negative, is most often the best approach to establishing prescience and showing you care. A response allows you to express to that customer, and other consumers, that you’ve heard the complaint and intend to address it in order to make future experiences better.
Do know what you’re consumers are saying about you? More importantly, have you responded to let them know that you’re paying attention?