Why We Love to Hate Social Media

fire and water Why We Love to Hate Social MediaI won’t be the first to tell you most company executives have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. When the people love you and say it publicly, well… as a marketer you can’t help but bounce around like a jubilant schoolgirl. However, when your company goofs in some big (or small) way and it doesn’t go unnoticed, it becomes magnified—it stings.

It can be disappointing and lets the wind out of your sails when it’s there staring at you in 140 characters of black and white. I’d be lying if I said companies didn’t want it to go away. Some organizations decide at that point that they’ve had enough of this social media thing and choose to ignore the channel altogether thinking that the conversation goes away if they’re not listening. Well if that isn’t farther from the truth … I don’t know what is.

Harad Tweet Why We Love to Hate Social Media

Here’s a tweet from Mitchel Harad that started me thinking about sharing this publicly. It comes from a customer who was giving us a backhanded compliment. At first glance, many a company exec would wince at the use of “awful phone support.” We’re not like average execs; we face criticism head on. In fact, I love it because it’s an opportunity to engage with someone directly and learn from the conversation.

Sure, I’m not overly excited about the fact that a customer thinks that, but look, he’s noticed an initiative we’ve become la laser-focused on and that’s providing better customer service. One of our recent internal customer service initiatives has been to provide quicker service to more people. Whether that’s online or over the phone, it’s a target we’re continually aiming at. What better advertising than coming from a customer unsolicited who said he felt the impact of our internal work. We slashed the wait times and he’s giving a virtual high-five for it.

It’s my team’s job to listen, engage and provide feedback to all parts of the business on behalf of what we see, hear and feel from customers, prospects, analysts—the industry overall. This is the kind of stuff that we live for. It’s proof that social media’s application goes beyond marketing or lead-gen. It yields a customer service channel, where if untapped, will bite you. If no one’s talking about you, your service or your products, then that’s a problem. It means what you do has zero remarkable qualities (or concerns) worth talking about. This is a big red flag if no one talks about the company – good or bad.

I spoke on a B2B Social Media panel on this very topic last week in Phoenix. It was a great opportunity to weigh in on a topic that business owners everywhere still have burning questions about. I welcomed the chance to share how we listen and engage in the online conversation that occurs in our industry among small businesses every hour, everyday. The audience consisted of many C-level executives who probably don’t have a dedicated community manager to lead their social media efforts for them, which is a shame because having that dedicated person gives you sustainability, flexibility and invaluable listening/engaging power. We invest in it. He’s called @JoeManna and we’re fortunate to have him—you probably notice him as he interacts with customers daily, mostly via social media, this blog and email.

Read about the B2B Social Media panel and the advice shared on the Phoenix Business Journal and the Valley PR Blog. No matter the size of your business, there’s great insight for you to consider.

I’ll admit there’s even still debate within our leadership team as to what degree social media serves for customer service, lead generation and brand-building. I’m on a personal mission to tie social media into leads and sales monthly numbers. We know it’s a big part of the equation, but not the only part. One problem/benefit is it requires a human. It’s not just some report you have a query for and out pops the metrics … But that’s a future blog post.

The other side to be aware of is how some customers may use social media as a way to hijack the customer service process as our Community Manager commented last year on the MarketingProfs Daily Mix Blog. (It’s worth revisiting this topic again soon.)

What’s your relationship with Twitter? So many small businesses still ignore the fact that there’s a conversation happening, and someone somewhere is probably talking about your brand in some way, good or bad. Will you even hear it? It’s costing you more than you can even imagine; what are you waiting for?

[Image credit: Lil' Jack]

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_72M62CUKCQADNUEC74B6R6Z7IQ Lamar Jay

    While there may be a sharp divide on the role of social media no one can deny what took legions of employees to discover can now be done with a dedicated few. Customer feedback is there for the taking now, and it is up to businesses to decide how to you use it. Which brings me to another point, beware of reacting too fast or too strongly. Just as in other media, the vocal minority don't always represent the views of the silent majority.

  • JG Francoeur

    Great post Kathy. As you mention the best solution is always to tackle customer service issues head on! This type of honesty and vulnerability is one of the best ways to build trust with customers. Patrick Lencioni talked about this in his great book titled “GETTING NAKED”. Funny title but great book on business, customer service, marketing and sales!

    Jean-Guy Francoeur
    Author, Answers You're Aching To Know