Social media has changed the way companies engage with their customers. These platforms can accelerate customer satisfaction, uncover operational issues, and allow a company to easily (and algorithmically) reach every customer on the planet. Social media has revolutionized modern marketing and spawned entire new industries, processes and companies.
While businesses can impact individual consumers, an individual has a lot of power to influence not only their own experience, but businesses as well. Here are two real world examples of the power which individuals have through social.
The needs of the consumer are immediate
As technology continues to intersect with reality, consumer expectation is shifting. The immediate need for customer satisfaction can now be met through social.
My family and I went to Walt Disney World recently and couldn’t have been more impressed with the intersection of technology with reality. As I’ve written elsewhere, technology is putting the magic in Magic Kingdom.
For the first 6 days of the trip, we had been unsuccessful at getting onto the latest ride, the Seven Dwarves Mine Train. On our last day, we woke up early, got to the Magic Kingdom and positioned ourselves to be in the beginning of the line, about 50 people back.
We were met with disappointment — the ride was closed for issues. No ETA was available.
We waited in line for about an hour, but moved on to enjoy our last day. I felt like I let my family down, getting them all up early for nothing. I quickly checked Twitter to see if anyone was tweeting about it. No one was. I did come across the cast member Twitter handle however and decided to take a shot at turning our day around.
I reached out asking when the ride would be back online. From here, they gave my family FastPasses to get on the ride later when it opened. Meeting my immediate need resulted in me posting pictures on Facebook and Twitter and re-telling this story even here.
The reward for Walt Disney World was a follow up tweet, showing how happy the kids were. Disney directly impacted my family’s enjoyment on our last day and I will be strongly considering Disney World for our next vacation.
In meeting customer expectations, social allows you to speed up and provide more immediate satisfaction.
The power of the individual can change your business
Not all feedback from consumers are positive. Change comes from negative press as well. If you aren’t careful, it can be powerful enough to impact your revenue, as one major news media outlet is discovering.
The far right news website Breitbart had experienced success during the Trump campaign, riding the wave of conservatism. The problem was some of their content was xenophobic, racist and questionable.
Like most websites, Breitbart’s revenue stream largely depends on advertising. A social group on Facebook and Twitter called Sleeping Giants decided to take action. Sleeping Giants was formed in November 2016, after the presidential election. As of June 2017, they have 90K+ Twitter followers and 30K+ Facebook followers.
Here’s what they’ve been working on, finally getting the attention of George Takei, who has 2.36M Twitter followers (not to mention the Washington Post and large media buyers).
Many of these advertisers didn’t realize that their ads were appearing on the site due to programmatic advertising. This is where an algorithm makes ad placement decisions in real time. As brands are finding out, there is a risk of association with another brand through ad placement.
Over 2,000 advertisers have pulled their campaigns from Breitbart. If you check the website, you’ll notice a tone of change. The more sensational far right stories are gone and the headlines are more focused on news with a conservative stance.
At a minimum, the combined purchasing power and this ‘calling out’ of Breitbart’s advertisers have swayed large media buyers to adjust their algorithms to blacklist the site. Likely, these brands are re-evaluating their advertising strategies as a result of these individual social interactions.
Where does this leave social?
The choice for a business to engage in social is no longer a choice at all. Even if your business chose not to focus on the customer experience, your business can’t ignore the power of social to impact you, even if you ignore it.
When challenged, a board of directors or CxO used to either go silent or carefully craft a press release for release days later. With the speed at which modern business moves, that is no longer the case. A tweet can be sufficient to either placate or infuriate.
As someone from Sleeping Giants told me, “Our followers have the sense that each message counts, and that’s exactly right.” The power of the individual to sway a business is now palpable.
Putting forth a strategy for social is critical to your success. Shortening your reaction times to customer needs could put you ahead of the competition, but reacting to a campaign targeting your business could be even more critical.