Does Anyone Get the Concept of Social Media?
If you walk through the Times Square screaming about how you couldn’t cross the street, would you be surprised if someone walked up and offered to help you? Probably not. Life isn’t like the episode of Friends where Jason Alexander plays an office manager who shouts about wanting to kill himself and no one even looks up from their desk. Prior to social media’s popularity many consumers may have felt most companies worked that way, but today if you have a complaint many businesses are actively listening and willing to resolve the issue.
We wrote about companies using Twitter to help frustrated consumers. JetBlue, Comcast, Home Depot, and other major brands are monitoring what people say about them, and following up in many cases to see if they can make a negative experience into a positive one. When I was on Twitter a few days after the story ran I noticed that one of the sources I had spoken to, Frank Eliason from Comcast (@comcastcares for Twitter users), wrote that he was having a bad day because of a story the New York Times wrote. I looked up the story, and was shocked by how ignorant even social media users can be.
The article begins with the story of Brandon Dilbeck, a 20 year old college student who complained about Comcast on his blog. I should have known what was coming from the second paragraph: “He assumed he was writing for his own benefit.” After Eliason responded to Dilbeck’s blog posting by thanking him for his feedback, the article continues, “Mr. Dilbeck found it all a bit creepy” and compared it to having Big Brother watching him.
Brandon Dilbeck doesn’t get social media. Neither does the writer of this story, Brian Stelter. There are more examples cited that supposedly show consumers are bothered when companies reach out to them via social media. But isn’t this what we’d like companies to do? If Dilbeck didn’t want Comcast to see what he’d written, why didn’t he put it in a diary and stick it under his mattress? The whole point of blogging is to invite comments, just as the point of tweeting on Twitter is to start conversations.
I can’t help but feel sympathy for Frank Eliason, and not just because he helped me out by being a source for my article. He’s doing exactly what 1to1 has been preaching, and his work gets distorted by a tech writer who found a couple of people who don’t understand the medium they chose to air their grievances.
I hope companies aren’t scared off by this kind of publicity. Most of the public uses social media because they want dialogue. Why post pictures on MySpace if no one will see them? That’s what blogging, social networking, and tweeting are all about. If someone is “caught off guard” by a response from the company they complained about publicly, as another consumer in the article was, why post a complaint online? Martha Rogers recently wrote a story about why companies should use caution because they can’t un-Google themselves. The same goes for consumers. Anyone with a computer and a modem can access what’s posted online, so people shouldn’t be shocked when they realize they aren’t the only person in Cyberspace.
*Image from Socialmedia.biz*
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