Social media for business - A blessing or a curse?

Social media is one of the quickest ways to market your new business these days. Brands are constantly told that Twitter, Facebook and the like are not only useful, but essential.

But, if you are considering a foray into social media marketing for your business, I say proceed with caution!

Let me tell you a sweet story…

On the 16th August I found a wine gum in my Co-operative midget gems*.

Would I have put my plans for the day on hold, turned around and marched back into my local Co-op to demand an explanation?


Would I have casually mentioned it next time I popped in to buy a pint of milk, loaf of bread and Peppa Pig magazine?

Probably not.

If I had done either of the above, would anything have come of it?

Almost certainly not! Aside from a few funny looks and ‘hilarious’ comments, “Don’t complain, everyone else will want one too!”

No. I am absolute convinced that were it not for Twitter, my little wine gummy bonus would never have reached the attention of a single Co-operative employee.

But I could, so I did…And it took less than a minute:

Tweet complaint sent to Co-operative

How did The Co-operative deal with my complaint?

Well I was expecting a jokey tweet or snarky reply, but not the seriousness with which my complaint comment was met.

I received an immediate, apologetic response, followed 5 days later by a letter and a £5 voucher!

Has the world gone mad?

Social media makes it FAR too easy to complain!

I looked at the Co-op Twitter feed, and there were people with more serious bugbears than mine, bread rolls mouldy before use by date and the like. But still, if it weren't so easy to mention, would they waste the time and petrol driving back to the store to reclaim their 80p?

Obviously social media offers a business many opportunities - ‘cheap’ advertising, getting your brand in front of new customers, engaging your current customers, encouraging word of mouth, social proof – we’re more likely to buy from brands we see as popular, great SEO opportunities etc. 

But it is not without risk.

New brands dreaming of a global social media presence need to be aware that with the good comes the bad

If you choose to put your brand up on social media you open yourself up to both positive and negative opinions, and potentially lots of them!

Yes re-tweet the good stuff, but you have to handle the bad too...and quickly, otherwise it leaves a nasty taste. Even complaints that you think are ridiculous have to be dealt with professionally and courteously, and more to the point 24/7.

Make sure you have people looking after your social media accounts that you trust to respond to comments quickly and in a way that you feel represents your brand values. But don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun with it. After all, a lot of the benefit of social media is showing the personality of your brand, so get out there and interact. People like to feel they’re buying from people, and what better way to get close to your customers.

Right, I'm off to spend my voucher. Thank you @CooperativeFood - you really didn't need to!


What do you think? Is social media always a good thing? Or does it make it too easy for your customers to complain?

Do you have any good examples of brands using social media well, or indeed, not so well? I'd be interested to hear about them.

*Other brands of midget gems are available.

Follow my #copywritingjourney on Twitter @weenixlen

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