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Social media can have big impact on your reputation

The impact of social media is all the rage these days. Often simply referred to as ďthe buzz,” itís also now formally called consumer-generated media.†Basically, CGM refers to a variety of sources for online content that is created, initiated, circulated, shared and used by consumers who are intent on educating others about businesses, products and services. It often informs by relevant experience and is typically archived online for access by other consumers.

With the growth of social media like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, a not-so-pleasant experience for you might wait just a click or two away. Itís dubbed the ďonline review.Ē These days, companies selling just about anything are monitoring the CGM scene to track what people are saying about them and what issues are being discussed. Just Google your company name or brands and itís possible you could be reading about your performance or, perhaps, the lack thereof.

†CGM reminds me of a business professor I had in college who taught that people who are treated well by a business tell one or two others while those who are treated shabbily tell 20! Now, in the ever-growing blogosphere with social media, countless bulletin boards and discussion forums, people can complain to thousands, even millions, if a company fails to treat them right. Clearly, the social network explosion has put a lot of power in the customerís hands.

Who can forget musician Dave Carroll who was given the runaround by United Airlines for†six months after it smashed his guitar. Carroll finally wrote a song — United Breaks Guitars — about his experience. Posted on YouTube in early July, it has been viewed by more than 6 million people. You think United should not have given Carroll the runaround?

Knowing what people are saying about you is important. Reviews that are negative can mean potential customers will avoid heading your way. They can also deter suppliers from doing business with you. But dealers donít have to ďjust take it,Ē especially if thereís an unmerited negative review by someone.

†To take the offensive, ask satisfied customers if they would share their experiences online. Moreover, in the case of a bad review, experts advise that you donít have to accept someoneís negative comments as the last word. Rather, you should immediately attempt to dialogue with the customer. After all, a customer with a gripe might be encouraged to change the comments or even remove the post altogether.

When a bad review surfaces, an apology goes a long way, Lisa Barone recently told the Wall Street Journal. She is a co-founder of Outspoken Media Inc., a Florida-based Internet marketing company. “Most people just want to be heard,” she says. “They just want to know you’re listening and you care, and that you’re going to try and fix it.”

Finally, itís always possible a negative review may not be all that bad.† It could, for example, be helpful in identifying some operating problem in your dealership that you were not aware of. Perhaps there is something your sales or service team does in the normal course of the day thatís actually irritating the customers. Or, perhaps, itís something they donít do.

†Either way, monitoring the CGM about you is important enough these days to spend some time on the computer.


4 comments on “Social media can have big impact on your reputation

  1. steve s

    Good topic Norm. A big problem with internet reviews is the bogus info. Many businesses with bad products/service will pose as customers to post positive reviews for themselves and trash competitors who offer great service.

  2. Tom Marlowe

    I’ve been following these type reviews for many years now. Some good information is gleaned from them for sure but you’ve really got to take it all with a grain of salt. A bad review is hardly ever the whole story and it’s almost certainly embellished to some degree. Ten years ago the online audience was easily taken in, whereas today’s audience is much more calloused, accepting the fact that anyone can get on line posing as whoever they want to be, and say almost anything, true or not. It proves to me that still nothing beats a good one on one conversation.

  3. David Hulbert

    Very relevant topic. We make a proactive life boat/dinghy, the Portland Pudgy. We have observed chat rooms where (at least with some honesty) the critics have said, “Even though I have never seen or tried a Pudgy. . .” and then go on to make grand assumptions about the product they have never seen that are incorrect and simply wrong. We did answer some of these critics in their chat rooms. In one instance, after our response, the most sever and inflammatory critic wound up buying our entire life boat system. He then became our most ardent admirer and promoter. Old ideas die hard and when you introduce something new or controversial I am disturbed at how some people without any investigation or research are willing to make and publish to the web false assumptions. I have discovered, however, that a number of people are willing to enter into a reasonable discussion with your exception to their comments, but tracking all that on the web can take a huge amount of time and attention.

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