Be a More Empowered Consumer Using Social Media

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Social media — those websites like Facebook and Twitter — that connect us to friends and family can also connect us with companies. Nearly every company today maintains a presence on these social media sites. You can visit their page to see what they’re saying and what others are saying to them.

Companies use this “social media marketing” to create an online community of fans on these sites. They provide benefits to their social media “inner circle,” for following or “friending” them.

Some benefits companies provide their Facebook or Twitter followers are:

  • Announcements about products
  • Notifications of events
  • Special offers to social media followers
  • Exclusive printable coupons
  • Private sales
  • Product information

I recently had a question about the coupons Store A was offering. When they posted about their offer on Facebook, I left my question in the comments. Within a few moments, another fan responded to my question with complete details of the offer. The company didn’t even have to respond itself because the community supports itself, a siituation that happens regularly for many companies.

As valuable as what these companies provide their fans is what they receive: immediate feedback. It’s extremely simple for followers of these companies to express opinions about the companies and their products. Don’t underestimate the power in these communication channels! People do express their opinions and the companies do listen. Most companies are set up with automatic alerts so they’re notified when their company receives feedback on a social media site, allowing them to “monitor the temperature” of their customers in real time.

This feedback is important to companies as an integral part of their overall customer service offering. How can consumers use this increased availability to our favorite companies to our advantage to become more empowered consumers?

Because companies have their eyes peeled for any mention, they’re especially responsive to comments consumers make about them on social media.

Here’s an interaction I recently had with a company on social media:

I purchased some half and half at Store X to make some creamy chicken soup. When I poured it into my pot of soup (even though it was well before its expiration date), I discovered it had gone sour — ruining my entire pot of soup! I returned the remaining half and half to the store, explained how it had ruined an entire pot of soup and asked for a refund. I also asked if there was some type of “compensation” the store could offer me for the ruined pot of soup and for the inconvenience of having to return to the store. The clerk refunded my purchase price but never offered an apology for my inconvenience, explaining there was nothing more he could do. When I got home, I “tweeted” on Twitter about how disappointed I was in Store X’s customer care — that I was offered nothing beyond my purchase price, although I’d incurred much greater loss as a result of the spoiled product. Within minutes I received a message from someone at their corporate customer service department with a sincere apology and an offer of a gift card for my inconvenience. She seemed genuinely concerned that not only was a customer unhappy but also that said customer had raised this issue where others would be influenced by my impression of their store. Now that’s consumer power!

The use of social media marketing will keep companies more responsive to the needs and wants of consumers. For consumers, this new technology represents a lot of power: The power of knowledge, the power to benefit from the community’s collective wisdom and opinion and the power to gain closer access to the companies themselves.

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that you can save money with Netflix? Even if you don't plan on using the service, you should at least sign up for the Netflix free trial here to get some free movies for a month.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: