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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Should You Wine and Dine Your Badvocates? recently ran a story about some of corporate America's big players and their attempts to address the negative word of mouth being launched online by "BADVOCATES".  It's great that GM is recognizing the power of social media and inviting David Meerman Scott to Detroit for an inside look. We all welcome that American Airlines is learning and posting information about delays on the website and distributing information via Twitter. Hopefully what corporations are hearing online will lead to not only a better image, but also better service.

But negative word of mouth should have been a concern long before we had Tweets, blogs, and YouTube videos. We've known for years that an unhappy customer tell 8-11 other people or more about their experience while happy customer tells only 3-4 (if they bother to tell anyone). All the electronic media that is now part of all our lives has simply amplified the voices of those unhappy customers while all the attention paid to social media has given them greater visibility.

Even as corporations tune in and respond to what is being written online, for every prominent blogger reaching a thousand followers, there are likely 100 regular customers reaching out through text messages, emails, phone calls, and even face-to-face conversations to share their experiences with 8-10 friends, co-workers, relatives, and neighbors. When you do the math, the impact is the same.

Attention is needed is needed both online and offline if corporations are going to succeed in shifting the balance between the negative communications that poisons the well for new customers, and the positive word of mouth that builds awareness, consideration, trial, purchase and retention.
12:30 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We the people - own the social media
I received an email yesterday in which Starwood Hotels Preferred Guest Program invited me to “Take a Peek at Your New Social Circle”. They explained that they were excited to announce the launch of a new suite of Facebook, Twitter and mobile applications meant to help me stay connected to SPG® on “my terms”.  They stated that my new Social Circle would allow me to do things like “Snatch up free concert tickets”, “swap travel tips”, “hear about hotel openings”, and more. Sorry to be the cynic, but my first thought was that I just can’t imagine any hotel chain giving me FREE tickets to any concert I’d really want to hear unless I started spending a lot more nights than I do sleeping in their properties.  Then I questioned why I couldn't just get the rest of what they offered (those travel tips, news of openings, etc.) on the Starwood website.  But my most meaningful reaction was: what the heck are they doing trying to take charge of “my social circle”. Perhaps I’m not properly setting my expectations, but when I’m traveling within social media I’d prefer to get my information from other customers directly.  More specifically I’d hope to be getting objective feedback, maybe even from people I know and trust, that hasn’t potentially been vetted by a corporate screener.  I understand that it’s difficult for corporations to give up control, but they days of being able to buy enough media advertising and pr services to own the public dialogue are rapidly vanishing.  Tryning to transfer that model to social media isn't going to work. Every customer experiencing a brand can potentially jump on the Internet, reach thousands of other consumers, and communicate whatever is on their mind. Yes, I have to hope that those consumers are being smart, honest, and that they have not been bribed by some corporate planner to slant the truth.  Corporations can offer lots of advice, customer care and and information on their websites (something I greatly appreciate), but most of social media will belong to consumers.
12:16 pm edt          Comments

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