But simply creating a social media strategy and executing it doesn’t mean you are using social media correctly. I can create a blogging strategy for your company and tell you exactly what to do, but that still doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful blog. You still have to follow-through.
Having a strategy isn’t enough, you still have to BE social. You still have to WANT to connect with your customers.
So many companies today are resistant to communicating with their customers. I think in most cases, it’s simply because they never have, and really don’t know how to get started.
But many companies fear blogs and social media because they fear that their customers will say bad things about them. Or worse, that there will be a social media backlash against their brand.
Folks, social media backlashes don’t just happen, they are created. Let’s look at a few examples:
Dell Hell – This is the original social media backlash story. This centered around Jeff Jarvis endlessly blogging his problems with his Dell laptop and the in-home service he paid for, right? It did, but the spark that lit the fuse of this episode was probably when Dell was contacted about its stance toward bloggers. The company clarified that it had a ‘look, don’t touch’ policy toward bloggers, and added that if a blogger wanted to get their attention, they needed to contact them directly, cause Dell wouldn’t respond to their blog. You can imagine that bloggers didn’t cotton to that stance, and that’s when this story started to spread like wildfire throughout the infant blogosphere. If Dell had been proactive about reaching out to Jarvis via his blog from the get-go, this episode would have likely never happened.
Motrin Moms – Motrin put an ad on its website on a Saturday in late 2008 and some moms found offensive, and they took to Twitter to voice their displeasure. Throughout the day, the discussion got more heated, and by the end of the day, it was the most popular topic on Twitter. There was no response whatsoever from Motrin on Twitter, which played a BIG role in the backlash escalating.
The next day, a few bloggers figured out who the agency was that created the ad, and got them on the phone to ask what their response was to the growing backlash on Twitter about the new Motrin ad on their site. The agency’s response? “What’s Twitter?”. Apparently, the agency hadn’t been monitoring any of the online feedback to the new ad going up, and neither they nor Motrin had any idea what was happening. As with Dell Hell, this episode didn’t just happen, it was created by a lack of response from Motrin.
Nestle’s Clash with Greenpeace – This was two-pronged. First, Greenpeace put up a few videos on YouTube that claimed that the candy company was killing orangutans by harvesting forests for the palm oil that went into their Kit-Kat candy bars. The videos DID make Nestle look very bad, but really weren’t getting many views on YouTube until…..Nestle stepped in and tried to get them taken down from YouTube. Now that CONTROVERSY entered into the equation, the videos suddenly became a LOT more popular.
Then Greenpeace and its supporters started going to Nestle’s Facebook page and posting derrogatory comments and images, including those ripping off the company’s logo. Again, Nestle didn’t handle this as well as it could, first threatening to remove such comments, and then their reps started arguing with commenters on their page! Of course, these actions simply drew more negative attention to the unfolding episode.
In all three cases, the social media backlash could have very easily been avoided if the company in question had reacted differently. But this goes to show that companies should understand that their customers aren’t just waiting to use social media to attack them. These type of episodes don’t happen by accident, they are created by the company not responding correctly to a developing issue.
So how do you avoid a social media backlash and better connect with your customers?
1 – Monitor what is being said online about your company. I’ve got an entire page set up just for articles on how to get started monitoring what’s being said online about your company.
2 – Start responding to bloggers. Target ones that are critical of your company, and the ones that are praising your company. You should leave a comment on their blog, but if you don’t feel completely comfortable doing this, email them directly. Most bloggers have their contact information on their blog. Or for extra-credit, do both.
If you can do those two things, you’ll be on your way. Note that in all three examples at the top, that the company in question waited too long to respond, and when they DID respond, they said the wrong thing. If you are proactively monitoring your online reputation, and proactively reaching out to customers that have issues, you’ll all but remove any chance of a backlash.
Plus you’ll be on your way to being social, via social media. Awesome, I was able to tie it back to the post’s title 😉