It’s a fact: companies have become more accountable because of Social Media. They can’t just hide behind mission statements, phone trees and corporate rules anymore. All of us should love that fact. Embrace it. And we should hold each company to the basic objective of being accountable and transparent.
It doesn’t mean, you shouldn’t be accountable for your own behavior.
The anonymity of the Social Web, the constant avalanche of information often leads to misinformation, skewed messages and subjective interpretations that aren’t based in reality. The need to be heard, retweeted and seen as a thought leader makes it even worse. So-called influentials (sanctioned by Klout silliness) waste all of our time discussing their bad product/service experiences, cheered on by the legions of followers and people that believe everything they say blindly. More importantly, companies waste a lot of time trying to keep these influentials happy and calm down the mob they tend to drag along. It’s easy for anybody now to start a rumor, to share a subjective customer service experience without having to face the consequences. There are always two sides to a story but we tend to hear only one side and immediately blame the corporation.
Recruit your own army of loyal followers
Facing an army of followers as a solitary brand will never end pretty. At best, you will be able to take care of the influential and their followers will disperse, looking for the next victim. At worst, you might start a brushfire. You can’t win this battle by yourself. You need to recruit your own army of loyal customers. People that will stand up for you when something goes wrong. Even to a person with 30,000 followers. The basic task in Social Marketing is to listen and engage. The real task is start building a group of loyalists, your brand guard that will fight for you when times get tough. Don’t try to buy mercenaries, or get professional soldiers. Deliver a great experience, amazing customer service. And, when something goes array, these people will pick up the fight for you.