01 Apr Social media is the ultimate comment card
A while ago I found my favorite definition of brand – A brand is a collection of experiences and associations connected with a product, service or person. For too long marketers thought they could “create” a brand and install it in the mind of the consumer. And it’s true, for a while it worked. (We’re still trying to get rid of the ultimate mindworm brand – McDonald’s.) But the Internet has changed things. First, new media with all its interactivity threatened the subliminal insertion of brand identity by big marketers. Now social media has blown it completely away. And traditional marketers are running scared.
Everybody wants to start using social media to expand their brand identity but hardly any company wants to suffer potentially damaging comments being written about them online. And yet, that’s the best possible thing that could happen for them. Why? Basically, I think a lot of businesses and marketers have had their heads stuck in the sand as far as their true brand. They hate negative criticism and think it hurts their business. But guess what….it’s only what people are saying verbally anyway! Here’s a chance to really see it…and then fix it.
Years ago I worked for a restaurant owner who loved using comment cards. Sure, he put the positive ones up so we could all bill and coo about our great food and service. But this guy absolutely LOVED finding bad comment cards. He would track those people down and do whatever he could to make them his customer again. Those customers ultimately always became loyal, diehard fans.
Social media gives us the ultimate comment card. If you want to see a company using it to the utmost advantage check out Comcast. @comcastcares on Twitter regularly looks for upset customers microblogging about bad service. And then they fix the problem. I actually had a Comcast guy find the right port for my new host. Not his problem but he fixed it anyway. Another friend was tweeting about his service being downd – he got a call from a Comcast VP who had someone at his house the next morning.
Don’t be afraid of social media. Sure, it throws back the covers potentially exposing the weaknesses in the brand – the negative experiences and assocations with a product or service. But consumers aren’t stupid. We know when someone is just trying to wreak havoc online, and when they have a legitimate complaint. Just as frightening as it is to see negative comments on line – it’s ten times more powerful to be able to find them and fix them in the transparent world of social media. All it takes is guts.