After listening to a podcast from the 2008 Ragan Communications Conference, I began to try and decipher my own answer to the friend or foe question.
Shel Holtz made an excellent point during the podcast when he made the statement that if customers are interested enough in taking the time to comment about a product via a blog then surely companies should take the time to address concerns and fix problems. I know from a personal standpoint, if I were to reach out to a company, especially after being a dedicated customer, and was ignored by the company then I would take my business elsewhere. Companies build relationships through their products and social media is making that relationship a two way street. Because of social media, customers are now given the chance to provide feedback. If a customer takes the time and effort to provide that feedback then they shouldn’t be ignored.
It really isn’t that hard to respond to customers. Anyone in the company could do it, from the mail room employees to the CEOs. If everyone in the company took part in gaining a better understanding of what the customers are looking for then the company as a whole would be on the same page. It isn’t good enough for one person to be the “social media person.” Social media should be something that everyone is a part of.
Companies should be diving into social media. They should be looking everyday to see what people are saying about them. Problems cannot be addressed if the problem is unknown. By spending time in social media companies can tailor messages, determine what is being said about them and be the first to act in the event of a rumor or crisis.
So, is social media a friend or foe? After listening to this podcast, I would have to vote friend if it is being used. If companies are opting out of this “social media phase” then it can definitely come back to bite them.