Flash-sale sites offer a broader business lesson in what a lot of negative feedback means on social media.
I recently came across this post about flash sale sites and their "social media problem." The article mentions the high level (44 percent) of negative sentiment on the flash sale social media footprint. The "fans" of these sites complain about shipping, forced log-ins, customer service, and product selection, among other things. But by labeling this as a "social media problem," the focus moves away from the real issue: the flash sales business model.
It's not that customers are picking on the flash sales industry. It's that this business model appears to offer an incredible benefit to consumers--pricing discounts--yet each offer has limitations that may not be worth the benefit. Whether it's longer ship times or the over-sale of a group discount, they under-deliver on the promise of being in it for the customer.
Social media is a mirror--a reflection of your company, and how you're doing today. Sometimes you look in a mirror and don't see the truth. Then, every once in a while, you catch a glimpse as you walk by, and say--wait a minute, what was I thinking with this haircut? It works the same way with social media. It's easy to blame the reflection on your consumers, but what you really need to change is you.
Here are three ways to turn that mirror into a reflection you're proud of:
1. Acknowledge what you're doing. The Foundary has been called out as one of the flash sites with a social media "problem." But then the Foundary merged with a parent company, kept its product selection and design aesthetic, and eliminated its flash sales. This allowed for faster shipping times, and more product availability. Were some people mad? Yes. But the Foundary responded, held its ground--and worked toward solving the larger problem of the business model. It acknowledged negative feedback and did something about it.
2. Respond and resolve issues quickly. Say what you will about Fab.com, but its responses on social sites are fast and in-line with the brand image. It appears that it's well-staffed to handle a large volume of social comments, and works toward fixing any problems that arise. When you respond and resolve quickly, you turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
3. Report on what you're learning. Sometimes your social sites can seem overwhelmingly negative. But remember: all of this feedback existed before, it just wasn't in a public forum. The trick is to take all that feedback and do something with it. Consider compiling an insights report and giving it to shareholders and friends of your organization. They're already looking at your social sites anyway. Why not make it easier for them, and simultaneously explain how you're addressing it?
I'd say that 99.9 percent of the time, your company doesn't have a social media problem. It has a business problem. And when that problem is fixed, you'll see it reflected in the mirror that is social media.
Have you seen changes at your company reflected in social media? Tell me about that in the comments below.
CARRIE KERPEN is the co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, which she grew from a husband-and-wife consulting firm into a global social media and word-of-mouth marketing agency. She led her team to more than $15 million in revenue and landed the agency on the Inc. 500 List in 2011 and 2012. @CarrieKerpen