Businesses Can’t Avoid Social Networks Forever
Social media networks have inserted themselves into the operating conscious of small and large business owners, forcing them to get involved or face the potential consequences of inaction.
It’s commonly understood in the marketing world that businesses often have a reactive approach to new marketing techniques. This is generally due to time constraints, strained budgets, and a lack of awareness. In addition, there is an attitude where business owners don’t feel there is a need to adapt their business to these new marketing avenues until it becomes absolutely necessary to do so.
This has often worked out just fine for many businesses. The traditional press, chat, and even email was slow enough that negative press spread at a rate that the owner could control — in most cases.
Social media is a game changer!
Facebook and Twitter are changing the way that people discuss their experiences. No matter where they are physically, people are able — and inclined — to share what is going on around them in a very quick, and personal way.
For example, a person might go out to dinner, have a bad experience, and update their Facebook page with “Torinos is a horrible restaurant, never go there!” This message is then displayed for their entire network of friends, many of whom are nearby and are either current customers or potential customers.
If “Torinos” isn’t involved in basic social networks, they may never even know what’s going on. If they aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, the criticism goes unnoticed by the company, but not by their customers.
Because Facebook and Twitter are social, discussion will undoubtedly ensue, a consensus will be reached, and Torinos will have no say in the discussion and no chance to right the situation and restore their good name.
Social Media Isn’t About Advertising
Derek Johnson, CEO of Tatango, wrote an excellent blog post about social media and business that pushes the concept that I’ve described above.
The majority of the conversations about a business happen outside a restaurant (business). That is where social media comes in ( i.e. Facebook and Twitter). People are talking about your brand, your business, you as a person. They are talking about that 24/7 out there on the web.
Derek Johnson, Social Media Isn’t About Advertising
It is important for businesses to understand that just because they ignore social media, that doesn’t mean it won’t affect them. People will continue to talk about you, your service, and your products, and unless you are actively involved in reaching out to this group of customers, you are missing out!
Real world example: Dominos & YouTube
Domino’s is a recent high-profile case of the affects of social media when a rowdy group employees caused major problems for a very big company! Some Domino’s employees where goofing around on their personal video camera, recording themselves tampering with food, and then pretending to deliver the food.
Once the video was posted to YouTube, it shot around Facebook and Twitter, and in a matter of a few days, it had been viewed more than a million times. Members of the online community Consumerist.com tracked down the offending Domino’s employees and let Domino’s Corporate office know.
In just a few days, Domino’s reputation was damaged. The perception of its quality among consumers went from positive to negative since Monday, according to the research firm YouGov, which holds online surveys of about 1,000 consumers every day regarding hundreds of brands.
New York Times, Video Prank at Domino’s Taints Brand
Fortunately, Domino’s acted fairly quickly, with Tim McIntyre, Vice President of Communications, contacting Consumerist members directly and through online video blog posts to YouTube by the company’s own President.
It’s also important for businesses to understand that being involved in social media does not mean you won’t have people who are angry with you or your service. It’s bound to happen.
However, when you’re involved with your customers, and are able to quickly respond to problems, you are able to turn dissent and displeasure into a situation where the customer feels like you truly care.
Often times, people who were just complaining about your business can turn into your biggest fans after you deal directly with them to rectify their problem.
It’s not all negative
I’ve explained the concepts above to business owners many times over the last few months. Many get the idea, but instantly think that being involved in social networks is just simply a method for damage control.
By participating in the online social networks, you are also giving yourself the opportunity to grow your customer base, and even create fans who will happily recommend your business online and in person to their friends.
This is a fairly long topic and I’ll try to follow up this blog article with another regarding the benefits of social networking for businesses.
Follow up questions
Has your business benefited from social media interaction? What negative experiences have you had to deal with online?
Tell us how you solved these problems!
* Post copy edited by Jackson Armstrong
* Photos, media, & logos are property of their respective owners.