My thoughts for anyone using Social media as a way to display your knowledge, prowess, goods or services online (Which let’s be frank, should be almost everyone now as Social Media is THE way to build relationships and brands for the 21st century).
Ignore user experience and interaction at your peril.
I say this so often when giving advice to the charities and SME’s I work with. People get a very small snapshot of you on-line, make their experience a pleasant one. Yes you can tell them about yourself and the work you do, but try not to be “superior” or condescending in your output. Not everyone has the in-depth knowledge of your industry that has made you the professional you are.
Particularly, pay careful attention to your posts about fellow industry colleagues / competitors or just other businesses in general. (Be they professional or personal posts) as everyone, no matter what we do, are always first and foremost consumers.
We have all grown to expect nothing short of a delightful experience from our online interactions… Whether it’s looking for a cafe locally, booking a cab, searching a hashtag or just browsing through Twitter, we want it to be simple, easy and painless.
My own personal experience has this past week been very difficult, the posts I have been party to from a group of “professionals” in an industry which already has a horrible reputation, has been eye-wateringly painful to see.
Most shocking was that these were posts from professionals who are upon investigation, extremely well educated and seem to a have a great track record in their professions. They seem to have an on-line vigilante group (their words on a tweet) that policies their industry and “takes out” (again verbatim) anyone they perceive to be a threat in any way. This is without any investigation by a government or regulatory body, nor any actual criminal charges in any shape or form.. BUT cross their path at your peril (actually from what I witnessed, many in their industry don’t have much chance avoiding them as they seem to spend endless hours trolling the internet for victims of their vigilantism) because your feed on Twitter and I should imagine elsewhere online (I haven’t checked) is obliterated by uninvestigated (by authorities) accusations and personal jibes.
I have been party, purely because one of these “professionals” sought me out though, I am assuming, my LinkedIn connection to one of the small businesses they were attacking this past week.
Did I get a phone call? A tweet? A message? An email? Carrier pigeon? To tell me they believed an acquaintance of mine may be not as professional as they feel they are?
Sadly no. The professionals in this industry believe that by posting a totally unrelated industry, small business details online and accusing the director of being a “little lady” “earning lots of money” “with a silly surname” is totally acceptable.
This obviously hit a nerve with me and even still 4 days later – these “Professionals” are referring to me online, despite my doing the right thing on day one. I made contact with the governing body of their industry to offer any and all support to any investigations they may be carrying out (which incidentally were none and they were not happy at what they had witnessed online). On day 2 I made contact with 2 of the people tweeting – one of whom engaged with me and I am now totally convinced they believe their tactics online are helpful for their industry; however anyone else watching, myself and all my followers included, feel it has just underlined the “Bullyboy” “Couldn’t care less” attitude that is the perception of this particular industry.
Overall it has just reaffirmed everything that Social Media is about – it gets information out super-quick, it gets your name known and a brand (if you pitch it right) out to the world. However your actions/words are there for eternity.
My advice –
- Everyone is a potential consumer – treat everyone with dignity. Don’t disengage a whole faction of the populace, just because they may not fit in with what you are trying to achieve.
- Consumers are not children – technology has enabled consumers to take care of more complicated matters on their own. Instead of relying on experts and hours of research. However we all would like advice every now and then, THAT’S your role, help and advice and build trust. Don’t badger and condescend. You will lose credibility.
- Compliance and the law are key – Building customer trust is essential, after all there are more than just one of you (by you I mean service/product providers in your field of expertise). Your customers will want to know that their privacy and security is paramount. Seeing you online naming other businesses/contacts negatively without any forethought makes consumers uneasy and rightly so. Their thoughts will be “what will they say if I take my business elsewhere”? “What will they say about me if I skip a payment”?
- Know when to admit a wrong – consumers can question businesses online immediately now. A quickly drafted placating phrase used to be enough, now people need to feel valued. So admit if you are wrong and show online what steps you are taking to amend a situation.
Personally I think the “vigilantes” I encountered this week will believe themselves to be beyond reproach. That’s ok, I can honestly say my business is my passion and I do it because I love it, not for financial gain. This is usually the crux of many issues of trolling / twitter shaming. Money (Either that or I’ve said no to a date at some point).
The potential from Social media is endless, if you know how to maximize it…
Rocoja knows how to!
Contact us for some advice info@Rocoja.co.uk