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Social Media is Creating Bad Customers

Do you remember the disaster called #McDStories? The now famous story of how McDonalds was hijacked on Twitter by people tweeting negative stories on their hashtag. Poor planning combined with outright naivety about the their own brand perception quickly attracted a growing, “angry” mob of real customers and trolls who completely derailed the whole McDStories campaign.

Now, I’m not a big believer in social media on the best of days and this type of story adds more weight to my argument – Social Media is Creating Bad Customers. Why? It’s simple… because people deep down are bullies or at the very least indifferent to bullying. Add to this how easily the social media public is influenced by a mob mentality and you get recipes for McDStory after McDStory.

Social Media provides the average person with 4 factors empowering bad behavior, particularly against companies.

  1. No Guilt. There is no remorse about bullying a brand. It’s much easier to do because no one gets “hurt”.
  2. The Mob. Lots of other people are doing it. Whether they are the instigator with a real story or a troll making them up, its easy to find others who will join you.
  3. Relative Anonymity. Anonymity strips many people of fear. “No one will know if I say this” is the common feeling and easily overwhelms any feelings of restraint a person might normally have.
  4. No Accountability. Probably the most significant factor is the sheer lack of accountability in anything said in social media. Without accountability as a “natural check” on actions, you get an environment devoid of any punishment.

Proceed with Caution

My first two questions to companies that ask me about social media are:

  • What are the risks?
  • What is the compelling reason for you to use social media? (And please don’t say because my competitors are…)

For me, it always boils back to risk. The more risk you have the less likely you are to succeed. Most organizations are ill prepared for customers they already have let alone a new group of social media empowered customers. Social media creates risk even in a docile customer base because it can change the natural state of behavior in a single person or group of people. A social media environment provides fertile ground for unrest and poor behavior.

More McDStories are waiting to happen. Are you one of them?
How will you manage the bad customer social media is creating?

Jeff Wilson- Sensei


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