Social Media: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Social Media: Is it for Companies or Consumers?

As a Digital Marketer it is an understatement to say that companies who use Facebook solely as an advertising channel frustrate me.  This kind of one-sided approach demonstrates a sheer lack of understanding about Social Media as a concept and more importantly a complete disregard of the interests of users of Social Media, not to mention the damage that it can do to a brand by using it incorrectly. 

Why use Social Media?

  • Transparency: Allowing your customers to see behind the branding and see your brand’s values, ethics and personality builds brand affinity.
  • Insight = Interest: Allowing customers insight into your company creates intrigue and interest; keeping them coming back for more builds long-term, customer loyalty.
  • Engagement: Posting interesting content encourages consumers to engage, and their activity is seen by their friends, who may also engage which is then seen by their friends; and so the social media virality goes.
  • Feedback: Social Media is an excellent place to gain feedback for your product; whether positive or negative constructive feedback is only ever a good thing right?

How to Use Social Media:

This fits very closely with ‘Why use Social Media?’ above;

  • Sharing insightful facts, experiences and views about your company
  • Demonstrating your values through action: Videos and images
  • Sharing other’s content which is related to either your brand values, what you perceive to be your customer’s interests.


Social Media as a Tool for Customer Service:

As aforementioned it can provide an excellent tool for feedback from customers and demonstrating excellent customer service.  However, even the big boys don’t get it right everytime!

The Good:

The Co-operative:  I was frustrated by the shocking customer service that I was continuing to receive in my local Co-operative Food Store, and therefore complained on Co-operative’s Facebook wall.  The response was an almost instantaneous, professional-tone request for more information to be sent to a support email address, which was followed up promptly and professionally. 

This is an instance of great use of Social Media for listening to customer needs, enquiries and complaints.

The Bad:

First Great Western: I was so frustrated with the terrible service that I had received that I resorted to snail mail (a drastic measure for me!) in order to get their attention.  They did listen; (to some degree) they extended their Facebook Openings from 5pm to 9pm.  But sadly missed the core point of my rationing; that using Facebook as a means to connect with your customers, is precisely for that!  Not to broadcast at your customers.  Or provide customer service when you choose.  Your customers are using your service beyond your Facebook opening hours and therefore should you decide to use Social Media which essentially benefits you then you should be there to support them whenever your service is operating.


The Ugly:

Currys / PC World: Well if there was ever justification for the argument of two brains not being better than one it is in this merger.  Perhaps the sheer complexity of the operations now that these two companies have merged has become too large to handle, whatever the reason; their customer service is somewhat lacking in my opinion.

Bad customer service leads to dwindling profits which leads to eventual administration.  And all this can happen a lot faster with the rapid, effective global communication that is now possible with Social Media and digital networking. 

My Experience:

(1)    I initially emailed them about a £150 reimbursement and had no response, at which point I decided to bring out the big guns; post directly on their Facebook Wall.

(2)    They deleted my first post

(3)    When I created a second post, which went something like ‘Guess I was right, you are not going to reply to this either’ they also deleted this and had the audacity to comment on it ‘please only post once, it helps us deal with your request more efficiently’.


They also appear to have changed the settings of the page in order that posts from anyone other than PC World/ Currys employees cannot be seen unless the Filter is changed from Highlights to ‘Posts by others’” and when you do, you will be swamped by the negative feedback: it seems that customer service is not a strong point of this electrical goods retailer.


My Warning:

If you decide to use Social Media for your business be prepared for feedback; positive and negative, and understand that the way that you are seen to be dealing with both positive and negative feedback will tell the world more about your company than the feedback itself.

What is your opinion on Businesses only manning Facebook pages when it suits them?