Last week, I read an article on Businessinsider.com describing why some major brands chose to pull the plug on their social media customer service on either Facebook or Twitter. Being on social is an invitation to interaction – both the positive and negative kind. The question is: Will these companies benefit from NOT servicing their customers on social?

No, not in my opinion. Sure, they may have saved themselves from public displays of unsatisfied customers’ comments on their social profiles. At the same time, they have also missed out on all the positive feedback and brand experiences. Those positives and negatives set aside, one thing is still for sure: Closing down their own social channels won’t mean the end of conversations about their brand on social media. When brands manage social channels of communication, they are capable of engaging with conversations, turning critics into fans and empowering their brand ambassadors. If a brand closes down its social channels, this is no longer possible and they lose control of their online image.

As Mike Rowan from Atlanta-based social media agency Swarm says to Businessinsider.com: “… interaction often turns an irate customer into an advocate for the brand. And that is worth its weight in gold.” And this is my point exactly. At Mindjumpers, we’ve often seen how our clients’ persistent social media presence and understanding of the customers’ and fans’ needs, complaints and brand experiences can turn even the most critical fan into a brand ambassador.

 

Charter Communication pulled the Twitter plug

The reason why one of U.S.’s biggest cable providers, Charter Communication Inc. decided to pull the plug on their Twitter customer service is, according to Business Insider, that they simply thought the online customer service wasn’t working the way they’d hoped for. They therefore deleted their profile, @Umatters2Charter, which indisputably sends out quite an odd message to their followers and customers: “So, we don’t matter to Charter anymore…?” A message most customers would derive from the lack of service on a platform on which they have grown accustomed to be able to interact directly with major brands.

 

Taken by the Facebook “storm”

During especially the past 6 months, we have seen many examples of Facebook “storms”, where thousands of people will “like” a negative customer comment on a brand page within mere hours. All due to changes in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm that calculates content relevance. And though it is never very pleasant when your brand’s Facebook page or Twitter profile becomes the target of criticism and negative attacks, the social networks quickly and easily allow you to interact directly with those criticizing you. More importantly, the networks enable you to do so transparently, meaning that all the other fans will see how you respond and offer your understanding and help. Naturally, this means that having a social presence is something you, as a brand as well as a private user, need to take seriously, as a lack of response (or simply a poor response) will only make matters worse. According to an infographic by CrowdSourcing.org, no less than 83% of social media users blame poor customer service for why they abandoned a purchase, whereas only 49% of non-social media users claimed this their reason.

If you understand your community and its dynamics on both a global and local level, you will also have the extra insights to pull off comedy stunts like British telecompany O2 has become famous for :

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