I regularly harp on about the importance of social media to make your business successful in the modern world but before you rush headlong into it, please make sure you understand it properly.
I say that, having personally experienced a big high street retailer trying to push social media over the Christmas break but failing due to a very basic error. Tannoy announcements instore were promoting a new iPhone app that could be downloaded. The App, said the announcement would help customers check for prices in-store, find further product details and reviews and allow you to share it with friends and family.
Great, I thought, until I heard one customer complaining to the manager. You see the store is in a modern shopping mall, with 5 levels of cars parked above it during the Christmas break. That meant the mobile signal for almost every network was either non-existent or incredibly poor. The gentleman making the complaint had been able to download the app when browsing within one part of the store, but when he came to use the barcode scanning feature to pull up more information on a product deeper inside the store, he had no signal. The app was worthless to him and he was obviously highly frustrated.
You see, from the outside – literally – the app looked a great tool to grab customers attention. It probably even worked great within the developer’s office with super-fast WiFi and so too in the store’s Head Office when presented to them. Yet, it seems it wasn’t fully-tested in the field, certainly not in the store I was visiting anyway. The effect then is self-defeating. If anything loyal customers like the man I overheard, have their loyalty seriously challenged, when such basic issues are experienced.
I know the manager in the store apologised profusely, but I am fairly certain that that disgruntled customer will tell every other person he meets during the very social Christmas / New Year period about his unhappy experience. Plus I overheard and am telling you – although I will spare the company it’s blushes this time – and I am sure others overheard too. Negative experiences can be very destructive.
So the moral to the story is do embrace social media – it will become ever more important in 2011 – but make sure you understand it, make sure you test it and make sure it can do what you say it can. If you can say yes to all of those, expect your business to see noticeable improvements, if you can’t, but still launch headlong into it, you could be doing more harm than good.
Have you experienced any similar flaws in social media implementation?