Manage your social media with Adam Stone

Adam Stone, Chief Executive Officer, Rokk Media

Adam Stone, Chief Executive Officer, Rokk Media - Credit: Matt Austin

Adam Stone is Chief Executive Officer of Rokk Media and he is here to give his expertise and analysis on social media and technology issues

We live at a time where thoughts zip around the world at the speed of light. A cataclysmic event or a compromising photo is instantly witnessed by millions of people in the blink of an eye. In so many ways the internet, not even a concept just a few years ago (the worldwide web was 25 last year!) has changed our lives in immeasurable ways and, I like to think, for the good.

To many, social media services such as Twitter and Facebook ARE the internet with the amount of active users on a day by day basis counting in the hundreds of millions and growing. For a lot of people from my generation old enough to remember having to put a finger in a hole and turning it around in a circle to make a phone call, social media is a thing to frown on and a great many still believe it’s a fad!

The advantages of embracing social media for most businesses are tangible and proven. My own company has secured significant contracts and a massive profile boost from developing and maintaining a social media strategy.

There is one advantage to having an active social media presence for your business, however, which you may have overlooked. You wouldn’t be alone either. Even the biggest of businesses get this wrong. I am talking about how to handle negative comments.

To illustrate how this can impact your business and how I believe the company in question got it right, here is a true story that occurred earlier this year. I decided last Christmas to treat myself to a pair of headphones. The pair I wanted were retailing at £120 at a branch of a national retail chain in Exeter. A month after purchase I noticed a crack in the plastic which quickly expanded, making the set useless. I decided to return them to the store but the reception I encountered there was not a model of good customer relations and I was unceremoniously told that returning the headphones would not be possible. I pointed out that they had not lasted a month and putting the Sale of Goods Act to one side, surely it was the ‘right thing to do’ to replace them to keep a happy customer? I lost. Exiting the store feeling less than pleased with how I’d been treated I hid a wry grin because they had not figured on my back-up plan - my nuclear option, my tried and tested Twitter army!

Quick back-story, I was one of the first people in the UK to sign up to Twitter. In fact I am user number 815,888. I have since built up a following of just under 17,500 and according to a recent table I am in the top 25 in the UK for social media engagement.

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So what? One whinging customer in a store is ten minutes of hot air to any business, three whinging customers is a bad day - but the potential of 17,500 dissenting voices is a major PR disaster - that’s what.

To conclude, within three tweets publicising my disgust at the said store’s handling of my issue I had hundreds of supporting tweets. Within ten minutes I had the attention of the store’s social media department. Within 15 minutes I had a private message of apology and within 25 minutes a replacement set was waiting for me in the store!

This illustrates perfectly how the use of social media to mobilise a silent army can be a serious issue for any business.

The lessons here for any business are obvious. Firstly, the company in question not only had a dedicated support Twitter account but it was also being manned on a Sunday and empowered to take action on behalf of the customer. The plus side is that, as a result, I was only too happy to tell my followers how well the company had dealt with my issue.

The old adage of bad news travelling faster than good has never been more true in our time of instant communication and we all need to be thinking of how we can use the channels available to us to turn bad news into good with fast and positive action.

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