Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is Social Media Marketing Teaching Consumers It's Good to Whine on Twitter?

Twilight Zone - It's A Good Life
Originally uploaded by HELLO CHICAGO

Interesting article on this in yesterday's Advertising Age. This is something I've blogged about this before and think the answer is absolutely yes. It's to the point that when friends complain about bad service with a company, I tell them "just tweet about it" because 9 times out of 10 that's what works.

I have no idea if this hypothesis is true or not, but I would venture to guess that marketing people make more than customer service people. Therefore, marketing people, armed with their social listening dashboards and gunning to keep their shiny-new social media jobs by proving ongoing ROI in the form of satisfied customers are under the gun to quickly identify gripers, turn those frowns upside-down by any means necessary, then report the success stories back to marketing. Marketing then turns around and gets great press out of their innovative social media responsiveness--Comcast, Best Buy, United....there's a big rockstar quotient in social media.

Customer service--not so much. Customer service people are in their regular old jobs with regular old metrics and regular old accountability--what's their motivation to jump through hoops to placate whiny tweeters? If social media "lives" primarily in marketing, what incentive to customer service people answering old-school phones and/or email inquiries have to quickly resolve issues? And even if they wanted to are they empowered to do so? I'd guess no.

As is the case with everything in life, leverage is what gets results. Customers used to be at the mercy of companies--they needed what companies provided. Now companies need what customers have the power to create: accolades on Twitter and Facebook and blogs and Foursquare and Yelp and YouTube and all the rest of it. The customer is now like that kid in that episode of Twilight Zone--the one where the kid could wish anything he wanted into existence and everyone was scared of him. Consumers now have the power to wish businesses into the cornfield and brands are scared.

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