There’s a warning for marketers in the recent action of a Chicago businessman who spent a thousand dollars to promote a tweet urging people, “Don’t fly @ British Airways. Their customer service is horrendous.” He generated more than 73,000 responses.
The warning: social media has added a negative dimension to marketing that can’t be avoided. The Internet has become a huge complaint box.
As British Airways and many other companies have learned, agitated customers can turn mistakes and misunderstandings, real and imagined, into viral criticism. For example, banks have been excoriated online for increases in credit card fees and service charges, and healthcare companies have been chastened by bloggers for overpromising or under-explaining new drugs and medical devices.
The solution for marketers is to monitor social media conversations about your product, service or brand. Monitoring these conversations provides an early warning system. You can react quickly to rebut erroneous information or fix a problem before it becomes a crisis.
In British Airways case, the airline immediately issued a public apology, contacted the Chicago businessman and addressed the complaint.
That’s the positive side to monitoring social media for complaints; you can manage the issue. For example, when Dell noticed complaints on Twitter about its laptop computer keys being too close together, it fixed the problem on its next generation laptop.
Dell, of course, has major resources for monitoring services. There are all-encompassing, monitoring services you can purchase, but there are also excellent free services such as Addictomatic, Social Mention, and Google Alerts.
Since every customer, critic and competitor now has an electronic megaphone to complain or condemn, monitoring social media is a must.