Years ago, the only way to really get a companies attention on a product was to picket, rally, or boycott.  Even then with all of that, most of the world would never hear a message that minuscule.  Well enter social media. Now if you have a product that you don’t like, fails, or has major defects, you can broadcast your complaint not just directly to that company, but to everyone that may be following them online.

Let me give you an example.  Same you buy a new anvil from Acme.  It arrives fine, but when you open it up, its all scuffed up, poorly packaged, and doesn’t weight a full “1 ton” like advertised.  Obviously you’re going to be a little upset because your Road-Runner trap won’t work.  Instead of writing an angry complaint letter to Acme, you can go to your Facebook wall and tell the whole story for all of your 300+ friends to see.  They immediately read it, and decide they too will no longer use Acme and will seek other vendors.  Two weeks later, this small ripple effect starts catching even more wind, and Acme stock prices start to take a hit.  A website gets created from another angry user that now has a forum for all other users to unit.  They talk about Acme on that site and on the new Facebook groups, Fan pages, Twitter lists, etc. all about how bad Acme’s products are.

Sad thing about that scenario is that Acme never acknowledges the “small” complaints, and before two weeks, what was a snowball has now turned into an avalanche.  We are now living in an age where companies can no longer play the elitist role and not listen to their customers and consumers.  The mainstream media used to be the choice medium for these types of news, and even they can’t keep up with “right now” stories.

What does this mean for you as a business owner?  A few things actually. For starters, you can grow your brand easily by keeping a listening ear to your industry.  Listen for complaints to the big boy companies so that you steer clear of those woes.  Hone in on your immediate competitors and find out what they’re doing and NOT doing.  You can then adjust your sales strategies to fit the gaps, and emerge as the one company who actually services the key niche overlooked by all others in your market.

How do you do it? Simple. Follow your competitors social streams.  Why not, I mean if you don’t, they will be following you.  Especially as you start to grow your brand and recognition.  Engage in consumer complaints.  And when I say engage, I don’t mean “sell.”  What I mean is to provide alternatives to their complaints.  Answer their questions and provide quick fixes to issues.  They’ll appreciate you more and most will end up looking to you next time they need that particular service again.  No one forgets a bad service experience.  Likely, people sing praises about good experiences.  I promise, you’d rather be at the tail end of a lengthy complaint that highlights the faults of your competitor, and ends off with a praise to you for providing a solution.

This all takes time, research, and dedication.  A lot of businesses are waking up to this new era of “right now” media.  Most want to do something about it, but a large percentage won’t take the proper initiative.  It may not look like so now, but it is worth the money to hire a social media marketer.  If necessary, vet a company out.  Ask around, contact their clients for feedback.  Or simply contact us here at Design Theory.  I know, shameless plug.  (could you blame me?)  The bottom line is that we all know good news travels – but bad news travels farther and faster.  As always I’d love to hear your comments about this.  Especially if you have a similar story you’ve experienced!