I am not going to lie, this topic has been getting at me for a while. Call me a geek or whatever, but I am fascinated by social media. From a PR angle, it really interests me how important it has now become to have a good reputation online. But it is offline where things seem to be inconsistent. So maybe this post isn’t a rant but merely an acceptance of change in how we all see brands and how important reputation is.
PR helps to get people involved in and talking about brands. Some content and activity even encourages you to go there. Brands are having to become much more accountable for their actions because it can all be seen across social media. Social Media has become part of everyday life with many of us using it as a way to vent our feelings about the woman who pushed in front of us in the queue at ASDA or to watch that VINE of the cat going mental. Brands have to be more accountable because of this. Not only this reason, but for the fact that social media has become the way to complain. Think back to the last time you had a bad meal at a restaurant or had bad customer service….you are more likely to tweet them or give them a bad Trip Advisor score than saying something to the staff. Yes, there may be times when people do speak up but it has become a norm for people to use social media as a way to complain. Brands need to be more aware than ever.
But one thing that I have noticed more recently is that customer service seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. What I fail to understand about this is why some brands do not match their in-store experience with their social experience??? Too many times recently, I have gone into retail shops and left because I was made to feel awkward as the staff eyed up my every move, had to watch employees practically falling asleep or had to listen to a group of staff having a conversation about the new Star Wars film over their headsets whilst re-stocking shelves (yes, this actually happened). What happened to customers being the priority? I’m not asking to be waited on like a Queen, (that would just be awkward) but it just doesn’t match up with brand messages we are bombarded with online.
All this behaviour does is drive people to social media to complain. This led me to think about how much our behaviour towards companies has changed. Consumers have so much power in changing sentiment for a brand. It takes one person to go to Facebook and complain for the brand to spread like wildfire across social media. A recent example I found was the reaction to the Toblerone bar. Yes, it is not the best example for reputation but this is a great example of how quickly sentiment was changed and the brand became the focus in conversation on social media.
The revelation that the Toblerone bar was to be redesigned instantly impacted consumers sentiment and attitudes to the brand. According to PR Week, their buzz score (this measures sentiment towards a brand) dropped from reasonable 2.8 to a shocking -41.1 during November. This just proved how quickly everything can change. If brands monitor their social media mentions well then they are more likely to be able to come back from such a quick sentiment change. Not just this, but making brand messages consistent in both in-store and online experiences means that brands are able to reduce the amount of negative sentiment. It creates consistency.
Social media is the new ‘go to’. Brands want to engage with you so that you trust their brand. It links back to why you buy the same brand of pens or brand of bread each week. You buy them because you know what you will get. But in-store experience can ruin all the positive work being done across social media.With the introduction of Facebook Live, Facebook marketplace, Instagram stories and more, we can do and see anything. So why are some brand messages not consistent with in-store service? Maybe they feel that they don’t need to have this consistency. If so, not a good move….not a good one at all.