Holding Brands Accountable via Social Media

What you say matters. Your voice is stronger than ever. And I think you should use it.

Let me ask you a question … when you have a problem with a product or service, are you apt to share that experience on your Facebook page, tweet it out, or write a review/comment on a social channel? What about the same question if you are pleased or a brand exceeds your expectations?

About a month ago, I wrote the article “Social Media Reviews – Value, Morals, and Ethics.” It talked about the value and (suggested) need for brands to incentivize customers to write a review for their product, but to stay on the right side of ethics when doing so. My position today takes another perspective. I am here today to tell you that you as consumers have an obligation (OK – maybe that is a bit strong) to share your thoughts and perspectives on the products and services they purchase.

While doing some research for a project this past week, I came across a real eye opening statistic. According to the “Public Opinion on US Supermarkets on Social Media” report, “social media users posted 96,667 opinions on supermarkets in the last 12 months, which they shared 105,692,968 times.” Now granted, the 96,667 highlights that the supermarket vertical is a stronger lager in the use of social media. But the measly number of opinions that were posted was shared a whopping 105,692,968 times … an average of 1,000 times for each opinion. That is powerful.

Sure I have used twitter to comment on service, but that was only when my (then) cable company pissed me off so bad that it was my way of screaming. And yes, I have written a book review, but that was one I received a free copy and promised to do so. By and large, I am a social media voyeurist when it comes to product comments and reviews. I love to look, but I am not really active at all. I am sure this is true for many of you.

I think the time has come for both you and me to change. I think we owe it to our fellow consumers to help to be the ears and mouth of deserving and undeserving brands. When I look at the number of opinions and shares in the report, it says two things to me. 1) A small number are carrying the weight, and 2) so many of us really care.

We all want the brands behind the products and services that we purchase to be accountable. Reminds me a bit of the first time I voted in an election. Prior to my inaugural time, I was lackadaisical. I believed my vote did not amount to anything. Then, one year, I finally had outrage with regards to the political decisions coming from the White House. Change was imperative. I think many people felt that way that given year. I ended up waiting in line for two hours to vote and had no regrets.

We all need to be more active sharing our thoughts on the products and services we buy and spend our hard earned money on. It is time to be counted. It is time to hold brands accountable. It is time to reward those that deliver value. It is time to crush inferior offerings. Are you in?

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand reputation, brands, customer relations, social media, social reviews, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

6 responses to “Holding Brands Accountable via Social Media

  1. Funny reading this right now. I wrote my first ever “bad” review of a little hotel that I stayed in last week.I posted it in Tripadvisor. I was hesitant at first being, a small business owner myself.
    What motivated me was the desire to protect someone else from spending precious vacation time, and money on a dingy, smelly and completely misrepresented room. The owner offered no apologies or remedy.
    I have once been on the receiving end of a bad review. I knew that my customer was unhappy with what (not how) I told her, but I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I accept her take on the situation. She was venting about her dissapointment and wanted retribution.
    A helpfull ” bad” review should give something for a provider of goods or services to learn and improve upon.

  2. Jim Matorin

    Good thought Steve, but the cat is out of the bag. Thanks to the collaborative tools of Web 2.0 everyone is a critic now. It is human nature to be negative. I will reference the Heath brothers book Switch where they indicated that 62% of the emotion words in the dictionary according to a study conducted are negative. Last week I sent out emails to my Tribe for feedback re: the launch of my client’s new site. Amazed, but not surprised how nit-picky everyone was and how poorly constructed their feedback was in comparision to all the things we did right, especially in comparison to our industry which has done nothing.

    • Jim – yes … people are more apt to write negative reviews and complain. Brands must listen and make modifications based on consumers feedback. That will will trust and advocates. I know this for a fact as I work with brands and together we accomplish this.


  3. So, how do we combat all of the negative commentary? Granted it comes from listening to the buyers and sometimes making systematic business changes based on their feedback, but given those negative comments never go way, is it actually best to proactively notify buyers that changes have been made, as we saw Domino’s do with their “our Pizza Sucks” campaign? What other innovative ways can we engage satisfied buyers of products/ services to promote positive online word of mouth?

    Due to the scarcity of available information about niche products, even one negative review can be detrimental to a company; alternatively one positive review could have tremendous benefits in sales in a niche market.

    We’re trying to figure it all out. Like you said though, “It is time to be counted. It is time to hold brands accountable. It is time to reward those that deliver value. It is time to crush inferior offerings”.

    Steve, as you know, OfficeArrow has been a great resource to the business market and its 350K members for four+ years, as an online community for small business owners, entrepreneurs, and office professionals. We’re now in the process of launching a new “Marketplace” soon to make those votes count for the business community. Based on the reviews of a member’s trusted peer network across a variety of social channels (linkedin, facebook, twitter), the recommendations and “votes” will give buyers the ability to make better buying decisions. It’s pretty exciting, I’ll keep you posted but so apropos given this week’s post – “we all need to be more active sharing our thoughts on the products and services we buy and spend our hard earned money on.”

    I’m in!

    • Hi “eye”lona –

      Great comments and questions. A long time ago, I wrote an article “Social Media Conversation: I Know You’re Talking, But Are You Listening?” at https://socialsteve.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/social-media-conversation-i-know-your-talking-but-are-you-listening/ . In it I stated …

      “When someone says something negative about you or your brand, you must nip it in the butt – immediately. Bad news travels fast and it is best to catch and squash it. If you find negative occurrences, you should take one of two paths. If the comment is actually reflective of the truth – fess up, apologize, and state the corrective action taken. We all make mistakes and I have found that good will comes from this approach. If the comment is hogwash, just state the facts – objectively. Do not get lured into a subjective debate. Recently, I read of a comment from a disenchanted customer that blogged about a retail store where they felt they purchased something they did not want and were stuck with it. The customer bad mouthed the store beyond the issue. The store owner replied in the blog and stated that they were in business for 20 years and had always had a no return policy that was always communicated. This was the factual objective issue. They then offered to speak with the customer directly as opposed to continue to debate in a public forum.”

      I would further add that often – someone says something bad about a company or brand, and then when the company/brand fixes the issue an advocate in won. The person feels like they had an influence on the business and the business was actually listening. Today, that is standing out … maybe tomorrow, all brands will learn to do this, but for now, it is differentiation.


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