Sunday, March 11, 2012

Successful brands LOVE criticism and don´t see it as a "social media crisis"

I love this idea from the FB site Inspiration Me:

Throughout the year, write down memories that make you smile. On New Year's Eve, open it up and reread all of the good stuff that made the year wonderful! 

This is a simple way for you to discover how much magic there is in your life already. No need to chase and hunt for something else to come, just stop during the day and realise how happy you are in NOW. No need to wait for a new job, a new woman or to win the lotto – you are smiling already.

It doesn´t mean you have to be a couch potato, drop your drive and settle – it means that you can enjoy what you have to enjoy. Remember, most times what you have NOW is what you really wanted in the past, and that you strived for, believing it would make you happy.

We all need to vent – both good and bad. We need to let the steam out, to talk about problems. But also about the joy. Some complain a lot, some laugh – we are all trained differently... And what you choose to focus your attention on tend to be what you see more of...

Social Media crisis are often about customers complaining when they are not welcome to do so (how DARE they!!!). The drama with Coles this week, when the supermarket posted on Facebook: “in my house it’s a crime not to buy_________”, this got people started, and it wasn´t pretty. Everyone who had something against Coles suddenly saw an opportunity to vent. A simple "finish this sentence" that was there for people to write lovely things about the brand, turned ugly. And it was called a "crisis", a "fail".

The same happened with McDonalds in January, when the brand created the hashtag McDstories to promote their fresh produce, but got overwhelmed by people´s own stories about fingernails in their burgers and child obesity. Oooops - the hashtag was quickly removed.

Most times this anarchy of comments is called a “crisis” and the brand managers start running around like mental, trying to close the flood of negativity being spread out all over Internet. Brands, let me give you a piece of advice: Please don´t. Shutting down the channels is not the solution. It will only make things worse. People talk whether you want it or not. On platforms like Twitter and Facebook they have massive speakers attached to their mouths, making everyone aware of their thoughts. But is the solution to turn down the volume, or to listen to them? No.

Successful brands love criticism. They see that if someone reveals their honest thoughts and feelings – no matter how dark – they give the brand a valuable gift. When you know what is broken you can fix it! If you walk through life refusing to see the faults it will all break down one day. You will have a shiny surface but be rotten underneath. Let people vent. Encourage them. Tell them you will sit down with them and listen and learn; you will improve. Say “Mea Culpa” and give LOVE by showing them you are willing to change and serve the customer. People who tell you what they are unhappy about let you know where the brand needs to do some work; if you never find out you never get the chance to solve the issue.

When brands only want to use social media when people are super positive, they are still having an arrogant attitude, where the brand looks down on people. Realise we are no tools. The purpose of having many fans on Facebook is not to have lots of fans worshiping the brand, screaming like Beatles fans in the 60´s. Times have changed. Times have changed.

Be a friend, not a Rockstar. Give, don´t focus on what you get. Brands that live for longer have a conversation with people; they don´t simply demand that customers should admire them and be hopeful groupies behind the stage. The jar of smiles is a beautiful idea. When we choose to see the light instead of the darkness we get more out of the same life. But not everyone is that positive; there will be those who have jars of frowns too, and for those brands have to have a strategy.

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