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Don't blame Social Media it's just the messenger!

Between Facebook struggling with its flotation and faltering advertising revenue, LinkedIn finding itself at the center of a hacking scandal and Twitter being questioned over their motives for suspending accounts that criticised their commercial partners, it’s fair to say social media companies have been having a tough time of it recently.

And to add to their woes, according to Emma Barnett in the Telegraph, businesses are turning away from the various platforms because they are unsure and unconvinced of the benefits and don’t like leaving themselves open to unfettered criticism.

But is that really the right attitude?

Using the financial sector as an example. With all the bad press they’ve had recently it’s no wonder they’d like to go and hide under the nearest rock rather than look at the huge numbers of negative tweets or updates being posted about them. But, as in most walks of life, ignoring something rarely makes it better.

If companies are starting to shy away from social media because they’re afraid of negative comments, then they are missing the point. If someone doesn’t like your company, your product or your service, they’re going to tell someone about it. They used to do it over the phone or over a coffee, they still do, it’s just now they also share their views with hundreds more through Facebook and Twitter. But, it’s important to remember that they do the same with good news and positive feedback too.

If you are struggling with negative comments and feeling like social media wasn’t the best option, instead of backing away from it maybe you should embrace it. After all, it gives you a way to find out what’s happening, it gives you a way to respond and, if possible, put it right.

If those negative messages were still being spread the old fashioned way, you might notice a drop in customers but you wouldn’t always know why. If someone was complaining about your service to their friends in the privacy of their own home, you wouldn’t get the opportunity to put things right because you wouldn’t know they were unhappy.

The openness, transparency and freedom of social media may be scary to some, but it’s an opportunity for others.  And, whether you like it or not, it seems that social media is here to stay.

It’s where consumers are holding their conversations, it’s where they’re looking for information and it’s where they’re making their decisions. I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as some and say that the lack of a social media profile is “suspicious” but I would say that it’s unwise. If your target market are talking on Twitter then you’d be silly not to be part of the conversation, if they are sharing feedback about your products on Facebook, you ought to have a page for them to do it on.

Unless it’s illegal, there is little point in wasting time complaining that someone said something negative about your company. Instead, spend your energy and resources putting across your side of the story, or even better, making sure that they didn’t have something to complain about in the first place.

You see, social media doesn’t create the message; it simply makes it easier to spread.

And if you found that interesting, please share with your network!

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