Social media, even in its most accessible Facebook form, is damn scary for many clients.
It’s hard to really sell plenty of business owners, especially those smaller businesses, on social media. There are all the obvious reasons why, given its resource requirements in time/manpower/budget and the difficulty in measuring the ROI that it purports to deliver.
But then there are the real bugaboos that nobody on the client side talks about: the stuff that secretly make them quiver in their boots.
“Customers get to have their say about my brand in a public forum!”
Yes, I can read that thought bubble when I talk to so many of you business owners. I see you trying to figure out the closest exit. You are trying to embrace this major technological crossroads, and it’s difficult on so many levels because you have to make yourself really vulnerable about what you have worked so hard to build. We conscientious content marketers do feel your pain.
You’re being told that you have to embrace social media to survive, while in the same breath those of us supposedly in the know admit that we don’t know exactly where this stuff is taking us–largely meaning we cannot guarantee which platforms will be left standing in a few years.
No, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. The new social media paradigm gives real voice to your customers, for better and for worse. But professionals like yours truly would argue that the net result is for better, contingent upon smart strategic management of those seemingly risky conversations.
Unfortunately, even the most optimistic business owners tend to go to worst-case scenarios in their minds with the two-way public dialogue hypotheticals. I can’t tell you how many times a key decision-maker has let me know that they will take down any negative comments to their Facebook page immediately, when that day arrives. I explain all the reasons why that is exactly what they should not do.
Then that day comes for one of my own clients, and I’m all over it. It’s the Sunday night after Christmas (because we all know that off-hours are when all the bad b.s. goes down), but I call my contact person to alert her of the situation, and she thankfully answers. Ready to put out a Facebook fire?, I ask her. I jump back on FB and respond to the sarcastic claim on my client’s page as if I’m the most strategic and empowered customer service rep around. I’m not even convinced that the complaint is factually derived, but at this moment, unfortunately, that matters not. And finding out whether it’s accurate isn’t even my goal, because the customer is always right, especially when there are tens of other sets of eyes watching to see how we handle it.
Working as a team, we remedy the problem (which requires a phone tree and physical travel and work) within the next 90 minutes. The original FB poster has meanwhile already returned to post raves about how well we handled it. His wife separately chimes in. Woo-hoo!
I go back to the client’s FB page to thank the customer a final time for his patience and understanding, and the entire string is suddenly, mysteriously gone. Uh-oh. Just when we were hitting our stride fully leveraging the power of social media for fantastic customer engagement.
The postscripts to the story? That the man who posted a complaint was never even a customer of my client’s. That he was blaming my client for something that was another organization’s fault. And that somebody on the client side must have removed the entire FB string in a panic, despite our real-time reassurances of an FB victory and its ensuing lovefest for this brand.
Yep, social media can be a funny thing. And scary too.
What do you think?