A call from heaven or hell?

Welcome to the third in a five part series from Dr Nicola J Millard where she talks us through her new whitepaper ‘Serving the Social Customer’.

This blog explores the differences between social media channels.

You can download the full whitepaper here.

Social media is the room where like-minded people congregate to rant, rave and recommend. It is something that often brings out both the best and the worst in people and it can trump corporate PR, marketing and sales machines in both immediacy and reach

Social media can provide the ultimate in transparency as they start to replace the old style media as the primary consumer watchdog – it is now difficult to hide if you do a bad job serving customers. In addition, we are seeing the rise of the serial complainer, very evident even in this two-week snapshot – these customers will go for a serial whinge on as many social channels as they can find.

However, different social channels have very different purposes and customer motivations. The findings from the research that this paper is based on show that there were marked differences between the content on Facebook, Twitter, Forums and YouTube

Facebook tends to be a much friendlier place than Twitter because a lot of Facebook activities are from people who literally ‘like’ the brand.

Twitter has been described as both a water cooler and a complaints department. Although most customers are there to engage with each other, many are using Twitter to talk about their experiences with brands – and, from time to time, get things off their chest.

Forums are a social channel that has been around much longer than channels such as Twitter and Facebook. They seem to get very little coverage in the social media press largely because they are neither new nor sexy. They are, however, very influential due to their visibility on search engines, so they are often the first port of call for customers seeking advice.

There is also increasing evidence that Generation Y(ouTube) are using the video sharing site as a primary search engine for social content about products and services. This is understandable given the younger generation’s disinclination to read and preference for snappy and short visual content. A picture can be worth a thousand tweets – videos can be engaging, informative and eminently shareable/viral.

The danger here is that social media could become the default mechanism for complaining – over and above simply telling the supplier through traditional (and less transparent) channels. The first you know about an unhappy customer may well be their review on a forum – and, although there is always a right to reply and resolve, the best way to do this might be to encourage the customer to give feedback at the time over a less visible channel.

Consider social media as your hotline from heaven or hell!

Watch out for further blogs in this series where Nicola will discuss specific sectors and social trends, and give compelling reasons for organisations to be ‘social’.


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