I am currently reading Engage, Revised and Updated: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web by Brian Solis. In is book, Brian pointed out the threat posed by customer complaints that appear in Social Media, particularly Twitter. This brings up the whole issue of dealing with unscrupulous or aggressive competitors who use Social Media tools as a lever against you.
What kind of social media complaints?
1. Your competition can find real consumer complaints. Using your company name, product name or service, any competitor can use search tools, such as Google or Twitter search to find mentions of your organization’s brand.
2. Worse still, your competition could initiate false complaints on their own, or through others they pay as outsourcers. These complaints would look real and be found in search engines. The could damage your business or brand reputation.
What can your competition do with these complaints?
1. Aggregate them and republish them on a website or in a report. That makes them available for search engines to find.
2. Use them as proof that your product or service has flaws.
a. They can refer to them in their marketing material.
b. Their sales team can use the data with prospects and customers.
c. They can use the negative comments in their advertising.
3. Respond to those doing the complaining and engaging them to sell their own product or service.
a. They can ask for more information to better understand the nature of the problem.
b. They can offer a free trial or a coupon to try their product or service.
c. They can help form a group of dissidents.
d. They can create information on how others have moved to their products or services and what the improvements were.
In other words, they can use your complaints as lead generators.
4. They can use these complaints to discourage your business partners from carrying your products or reselling your services.
5. They can fan the flames of government or other governing bodies to investigate your organization or business practices. We all know of laws that were passed by local, regional or federal governments due to consumer complaints.
6. They can use the complaints to get you removed from industry associations or standards groups that you need to conduct your business.
7. They can bring these complaints to your supplier(s). You might lose access to products or even the ability claim that you are an authorized reseller or authorized service depot for one or more key suppliers. For non profits, you could lose donors.
8. They can create a new product that includes features or services that your customers are complaining that you lack.
9. They can feed the complaints to the press, who can, if they pick up the story cause even more damage to your company’s reputation.
These competitive activities can cause real damage to your business or even a non profit organization.
We all know that social media is the great equalizer. Poor performing companies can be found out and their faults shared with vigor. If these complaints exist and especially if they go unanswered, they can be found and used to great advantage by your competitors. In future posts we will talk about how to deal with these issues.
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
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