Remember when conversations over the back fence were the Internet of their day? When referrals were pure gold? And trust was the order of the day?
If say, you needed a plumber, you asked your next door neighbor, a good friend, the guy at the local servo or other such trustworthy acquaintance, if they knew of someone reliable. Invariably, if they recommended someone, you knew you could rely on it one hundred percent. Similarly, if someone asked you for a reliable contact, you’d certainly not give a bum steer. After all, it was your judgement on the line as well.
Today it’s a vastly different story. The Internet has opened up a storage house of information on literally, any subject under the sun.
All of which sounds like a marketers paradise. But beware, there are traps for the unwary, particularly when it comes to social media.
For a start, the internet operates in what is largely an unregulated environment. And it operates almost entirely under the cloak of anonymity. That pretty much gives social media in particular, the license to say and do what they please. Sadly, the days when one’s word was one’s bond and simple trust are long since gone. Where a single person, perhaps carrying a grudge, can do untold damage to an individual’s reputation or worse still, a company’s public image. Thats why more and more savvy companies, anxious not to commit brand suicide, are approaching social media with caution. Rightly so, when spineless individuals hiding under some clever pseudonym, can say what they like, true or often not. Forget about polite good manners. Today, people have no hesitation saying exactly what they think, favourable or otherwise, with no fear of personal exposure. Immediately!
Remember, the public are not morons. They pay attention to viewer reviews and use them as a guide to the quality or otherwise, of the goods or services they explore. You’ve probably read in the papers recently, of what is called ‘cyber bullying’. It’s generally cases of younger people, usually at school or university. It’s a growing concern, very difficult to combat and can often have devastating consequences.
It can happen to small business and large companies alike. And, as more and more companies are discovering the accessibility and online power of the iPad as a business tool, it’s worth bearing in mind. Treat every hit, every enquiry as a potential customer, treat them as you would anyone in a one-on-one situation and you won’t go far wrong. Just be careful with anything you put out there. It’s there forever.
Because no matter where the message comes from, cyber or not, it still is and will forever remain so, all about service. Reputations are built on it.
Do you have any experiences with bad comments?