The rise of social media and content creation has brought on new challenges for businesses of all shapes and sizes, especially when it comes to managing one’s reputation. Reputation isn’t a single stationary object, but an equation that includes many pieces, such as being known for quality products or services, being likeable, actively engaging customers, or the ability to offer valuable and relevant content.
Social media gives you the ability to communicate in real-time with your customer base and gives you a chance to build strong interactions. With social media you can provide special incentives, promotional codes, as well as sneak peeks at upcoming products.
Since being a social media manager as well as an avid user of most forms of social media, I have a hard time seeing any reason why a business wouldn’t want to use social media. However, with all the plusses, it still seems like the perfect PR tool is still highly underused. So why would a company not want to use social media?
After looking deeper into the issue, I realized some companies just can’t handle social media. Take Netflix for example, the first day they announced they were hiking up prices and splitting the comapny, their Facebook page received 66,000 negative comments, 5000 comments went to their blog, and the #DearNetflix hashtag received a hit almost every five minutes. Netflix had no clue what to do with this flood of comments and it took them a whole three days for a single response. In that three day period there was no “we understand” or “sorry for the inconvenience” or even a single explanation, nothing, which outraged fans even more.
After this fiasco, Netflix has had to do some major reputation repair that could possibly set the company back and give Blockbuster a chance to gain a solid chunk of market share. Still, could this problem have been avoided if they didn’t have their social media channels? In all likelihood, no, and it could have been worse.
Customers still would have sent emails, called customer service lines, and wrote letters expressing their discontent. Of course, these types of communication are all one-on-one, which would eliminate members from feeding off each other’s comments; but even at that, it still wouldn’t stop the millions who subscribe to different social media outlets from blogging and posting on their own platforms. At least with social media outlets, you have the ability to send a mass apology in conjunction with apologizing personally to major influencers.
In a perfect world, I would like to think most companies would take a more proactive approach and have their PR department ready for any negative reaction, especially when any sort of news would outrage the customer base; however, the business world is far from perfect and there are slip-ups similar to Netlix’s occurring all too frequently.
From my experience, even if you produce a great campaign that promotes a positive reaction, complaints will still happen at some point, so it’s best to be prepared in advance. Social media sites allow customers to tell companies exactly how they feel by posting on their wall or by shooting them a tweet, and when businesses run into negative comments, handle them with speed and care. Show the customer you are doing all you can to rectify the situation or at least are acknowledging the discrepancy.
Matt Polsky is the Social Media Manager as well as the Reputation Manager for Veterans United and VA Mortgage Center. Matt keeps a special spot in his heart for military veterans and enjoys working with the nation’s leading provider of VA home loans. Connect with Matt on Twitter @mattpolsky.