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The Social Media Soapbox: Consumers and Call-Out Culture

01 Jan 2018 Ann D'Adamo
1 Comment

in Media, Digital

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Social media has made it easy for consumers to engage with the brands they love and helps build relationships that generate loyalty. But it’s also created a call-out culture that can be a public relations nightmare for marketers if complaints are not taken seriously or responded to promptly. Forty six percent of consumers have used social to express their displeasure with a product, service, or business practice and that number increases when you look at the data on Millennials—56% have complained or called out brands on social. The practice is so widespread that it is second only to in-person complaints as the most common way to resolve customer service issues.

When do brands get called out on social media?

In the past, consumers may have felt powerless to stand up to businesses or may not have felt that they would be heard. Social has given consumers a platform and a community with whom to share their story.  Sixty percent of consumers say they call out brands when they suspect they aren’t being honest, 59% call out bad customer service, 57% want brands to know about rude in-store associates, and 45% want to let brands know about a bad product experience.

What do consumers expect?

Social isn’t just a soapbox, consumers expect brands to respond and be accountable. While 77% of consumers want to raise awareness about an issue, such as a problem with a product or poor customer service, and 55% are simply seeking an apology or solution, more than half want to bring media attention to the issue. This could result in negative press and severely impact brand perception. To avoid PR headaches, marketers should address issues quickly, apologize, and work to resolve problems

The cost of doing nothing…or next to nothing

If you ignore a social complaint, will it go away? Simply stated, no. Sixty five percent of consumers will share their complaint with friends both online and off, 40% will contact the brand on another channel, and 35% will boycott your brand altogether. The most socially persistent 18% will continue to post on a brand’s social channels until they receive a response. Equally damaging, consumers say a rude or unhelpful response is worse than no response at all—50% of consumers say they would never buy from the brand again.

All’s well that ends well

No marketer wants to be called out on social, but it does occasionally happen. When it does, it’s good to know there is a silver lining: when marketers craft a thoughtful, empathetic, and helpful response, they can take back control of the conversation and build trust among consumers. In fact, when a brand responds well to a complaint, 45% will post about their positive interaction, 37% amplify the message further by sharing it with friends online and another third will share their experience offline. More important, 37% said they would buy from the brand again. Consumers realize that no one (or brand) is perfect, but by addressing concerns, a brand is likely to improve both its reputation and turn someone who started by complaining into a brand advocate.

As many consumers take to social to call out brands, marketers must decide how to respond and consider the collateral damage to their brand if they get it wrong. Increasingly, marketers are learning how to respond to social call-outs, but research shows that they only respond to an average of 1 in 10 complaints. Brands that listen to consumers and respond in real time have an opportunity to demonstrate their transparency, commitment, and trustworthiness to consumers.

Women’s Marketing offers a full suite of marketing services including social media marketing strategy. Contact us today to learn how we can put our expertise and deep consumer insights to work for your brand.

Source: Sprout Social Call Out Culture: People, Brands & The Social Media Power Struggle


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