Everything we do is either a relationship builder or a relationship destroyer. This is true in our personal lives as well as our businesses. With the advent of the Internet, this is more evident than ever before. Years ago, if we made a mistake or a social faux pas, the repercussions that we had to deal with were probably on a small level compared to today. Today, bad news travels even faster than it did before. One unhappy customer can create a video and post it on YouTube and before you know it, you’re faced with a PR nightmare. In this global environment that we live in, it’s more important than ever to monitor and manage our online reputation.
The “Social Media Revolution 2011”
The YouTube video below was uploaded in June 2011. It’s part of the video series “Social Media Revolution” by Erik Qualman. Even though the statistics are from 2011, I believe you’ll find them to be impressive.
What impact does social media have on business? For one thing, through the use of social media, customers are influencing businesses to change their plans and decisions. We don’t have to look any further than Netflix or Bank of America to recognize the impact of social media. In both of these examples, there was a social media revolt of sorts.
Examples of Online Outrage
In July of 2011, Netflix announced their new pricing structure, which involved cancelling the $9.99 combined streaming and DVD plan and separating the services into two separate $7.99 plans. This change would have increased some customer’s monthly bills by as much as 60 percent.
Customers were outraged. Users left nearly 13,000 comments on the Netflix blog post (dated July12, 2011) and about six hours after the announcement, Netflix had over 9,000 comments on the company’s Facebook page. Netflix’s stock dropped 50% (from their all-time high) and over 805,000 Netflix customers cancelled their subscriptions.
The Effectiveness of Online Petitions
A few years ago, many people disputed the value of “signing” online petitions. Today, it’s common place to hear of people who have successfully waged online campaigns against big business.
In September of 2011, Bank of America announced that they planned to start assessing a $5 a month fee to customers who used their debit cards to make purchases. A 22 year old nanny named Molly Katchpole started an online petition on Change.org. Over 300,000 people joined her petition and dozens of other people started similar campaigns targeting their banks. In less than 1-month, Bank of America announced that they were dropping their plans.
The Power of a YouTube Video Gone Viral
Does everyone remember the YouTube video from the disgruntled passenger who rebelled against having his guitar damaged by United Airlines luggage handlers? That video went viral and has received over 11 million hits so far. (The incident happened in 2009 and we’re still talking about it.)
According to Wikipedia, the song hit number one on the iTunes Music Store and Dave Carroll, (the musician/unsatisfied customer) started a career as a public speaker on customer service. Meanwhile, United Airlines faced a social media nightmare. At the time, it was reported that United Airlines shares dropped by 10% and cost shareholders a reported $180 million.
Coming Together Online
I don’t believe anyone would dispute that these social media outcries had an impact on the company’s decisions to either adjust their plans or at the very least recognize the need to incorporate a strategy for handling online complaints. What are your thoughts? Have you ever started (or participated in) an online petition? Have you ever taken action on a social media site to voice negative opinions about a company or a customer service experience? How do you monitor what people are saying about you online?