A look at whether social media is enabling bad consumer behaviour…
We love social media. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. All major brands are there and accepting user feedback (if they value the long term success potential of their company, that is). Like it or not, these platforms have provided the empowered consumer with a tool, which they can use anytime to their best advantage.
Your ISP dumps you and you can’t get online, tweet @Mwebguy. You’ve lost your Microsoft Hotmail passwords? Tweet @MS_PCguy. A photograph circulates that shows Heineken sponsoring dog fights? Check Snopes before writing a five page diatribe on their Facebook page, swearing never to buy beer again and clicking share on the photo (please).
All major (successful) brands are online and they’ve all, correctly, adopted the advice to communicate, be highly responsive and remain transparent as far as their users are concerned.
Is social media turning into a mosh pit of moany, whiney consumers abusing the system? I think it might be. The way I understand social media in this context is that it’s to be used to share thoughts, compliments and complaints. Used to be you would touch base with brands online if you had real issues that you just weren’t managing on your own or you just wanted to say something nice about them. Even when you just didn’t feel like dialling customer care and listening to on-hold tunes for hours on end (I mean come on… who uses a phone anymore and what exactly is a landline?) – they proved immensely useful.
Now, consumers are using these platforms to voice opinions that I think may just be borderline over the top and, in doing so, are kind of ruining it for everyone else. You were pick-pocketed or found a giant rugby player in your seat at a concert recently, that’s not Big Concert’s fault. The free anti-virus you downloaded from Tucows has blown your hard drive? You can’t really blame Microsoft.
Of course, I could be wrong. This could be exactly how social media is evolving (and if it’s the case, feel free to tweet me @gooeylishus and moan about how uneducated and misinformed I am) but if this *is* the case, it ain’t pretty.
Social media platforms, to my mind, should be used for the purposes they were created. Communication, queries, calls for assistance, what have you.
As consumers, it might serve us well to quietly and considerately ask the question – is this so and so brand’s problem, or my problem? If the honest answer is “so and so”, and they can actually do something to help you solve your issue, tweet and post away. If not, and really, you have to be kind of tough with yourself here, rather moan about it to your mother-in-law across the dinner table – she’ll worship you and boast about how smart you are to her friends and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Written by Andrea Slater
When Andrea Slater isn’t directing accounts at FleishmanHillard, she occasionally blogs about lots of stuff she’ll never know quite enough about. But she’s learning.