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WorkingPoint Social Media Secret’s Revealed Part 2

Topic: WorkingPoint News | Comments (1)

Posted on July 8, 2010 by admin

Yesterday in Part 1, we discussed being generous as part of our Social Media strategy. Today, in Part 2, I want to start to look at being genuine. Being genuine has two sides: the good side where real customers say great things about you and the bad side where you deal with real, immediate criticism  of your business and your product. No product is 100% perfect and criticism is inevitable.

Social Media is about open dialogue and with that comes a transparency in communication that can be a little frightening. With Social Media for business, you don’t get to control the conversation, your customers do. This can be really positive thing for your business because your potential consumers know that all that glowing praise of the product in Social Media is genuine. I personally find that I place more value on referrals from Social Media because I know that it’s coming from real people. I even know who says it (no such thing as privacy in Social Media, right?).

But this transparency, this genuine customer interaction in a public forum, can be hard to swallow when the things that people are saying aren’t so good.

These days even person to person communication isn’t sacred, as letters (like this one from AT&T to a customer), phone calls, videos, yelp reviews, and other  business/consumer communications fuel viral content through the magic of the internet. It is scary to be so exposed.

One of my personal role models in the Social Media sphere is local company (and Small Business turned success story) Method. Their Facebook page is fun. It is also filled with thousands of engaged fans. How would you like to have 155 people answer your Wednesday Quiz question in between your customers talking about how much they love your product like in this screen shot below?

Even more impressive, their Facebook page has become an open forum for customers to ask support questions, discuss product features and ingredients and interact directly with the company.

The level of engagement demonstrated here is exciting for Social Media advocates like me. This is exactly how the Social Media sphere should be used to enhance your business. They are  impressively genuine with their interaction, answering frank questions and criticism with aplomb and their trademark approachability and wit.

Sometimes, like in  this post about a new product launch, the company falls under criticism for their decisions – in this case to carry a new line of baby products exclusively at Babys R Us.  These busy parents, most of whom also have older kids, were highly critical of what they deemed an undesirable location. As one Mom put it, “If you have older kids, there is NO REASON to go into Babies-r-us JUST for Method! Come on Marketing people….does that make ANY SENSE!!”.  Rather than attempt to mitigate or control this criticism, Method chose to let the conversation (and criticism) continue, and I’m sure gained valuable insight into their target market as a result.

They also came off, to a loyal consumer like me, as continuing to be real, approachable and genuine, characteristics that I believe apply to their company and as a result, their product.

Herre’s another example I found of potentially harsh criticism (this time of their customer support) which I think ultimately ended up being very positive.

Their grace in this forum no doubt fosters the continued popularity and usage of their Social Media platforms, which in turn bolsters their network of Advocates, Champions, Bloggers, Taste Makers and other people who are just talking about their products.

The age of Social Media may also be the era where everyone accepts that you just can’t control everything that’s said about you. In the aftermath of the BP oil spill, the company notoriously tried to manipulate the conversation about them by purchasing key words on Google associated with the controversy. Ultimately, it only makes you look worse. In this case it resulted in a public condemnation by the President of the United States, where he (and everyone else) agreed that they should of spent the money on trying to STOP and CLEAN UP the actual oil spill.

The oft cited failure that is the “Facebook Nestle Mess”, is another example where attempts to control and manipulate the conversation backfired horribly.

This story, excerpted from illustrates how trying to suppress or hide content was just adding fuel to the fire.

“The gist of the situation is that environmental protection group Greenpeace, who are known for their unorthodox and sometimes heavy-handed ways of bringing attention, created a parody video (but it’s somewhat gory, not funny) on YouTube of Nestle’s KitKat candy bar product. The video suggests that the production of a key ingredient, palm oil, helps further the destruction of rainforests, which in turn threatens endangered species such as the Orangutan. Greenpeace says that the Paradise Forests in Sumatra in particular are suffering a record-breaking deforestation rate.

Nestle reacted by requesting that youTube take it down. Viewer comments suggest that it was taken down, but that hasn’t stopped the video from reappearing on multiple video sharing sites, in multiple copies. This sharing of the video is making it go viral.

In addition to the Greenpeace video, there’s an animated parody of Nestle’s reaction. In it, two animated characters (using’s web software) pretend to be Nestle employees and talk about how they’ll get the Greenpeace video removed by citing copyright violation. (In truth, their trademark has been used in the Greenpeace video without permission, so this isn’t really a copyright issue, as far as I know.) Now, there are parody logos popping up that look like Nestle’s KitKat(tm) packaging but replace the brand name with the word “killer”.” – Raj Dash,

I hope that by holding these two examples up side by side, you will see the importance of being genuine in your social media strategy. Criticism is unavoidable, but if you can be genuine and use that criticism as a platform to demonstrate your engagement with your community, how much you care about your customers and how you are working hard to address the problem then this “negative dialogue” can actually really be positive. Trying to cover it up  or make it go away hurts your credibility and causes problems.

At my last job we had a policy that prevented deleting any content on any social media platform unless it included a threat of violence, was sexually explicit or otherwise deemed “unsafe”. Being genuine in Social Media, like in life, means there is no delete button.

That’s why at WorkingPoint we don’t just use our Social Media Strategy for marketing and promotion, we also use it to provide support for our customers. We are not afraid to have our support questions aired in a public forum (in fact we kind of like it).We actively troll Twitter and Facebook to see if people are talking about experiencing problems with our product and then proactively seek to solve those problems. We also use it to look for inspiration for new features we should develop or existing features we should improve.

As I mentioned yesterday, Social Media provides an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate that you care about people in your community. Using the open forum and the conversation to provide genuine, real time support for your customers is one effective  way to do that.

Below are some examples of from the WorkingPoint Facebook Page. We are proud of the engagement of our users in this forum, for the feedback, both positive and constructive, and for the opportunity to support our valued community.

Lastly, I wanted to address one more detail about the results in Part 1 about our Facebook page which I neglected to include. The fact that I have only been here, working actively on the social media policy for 1 month. These results are achievable for anyone, and the payout can be exceptionally quick. More so, it can be incredibly gratifying to engage directly with your community and can infuse more energy into your work (or at least it does for me!).