Monday, May 30, 2011

    Old School Mentality of Social Media

    On a sunny Sunday, my friend and I were invited out to a casual lunch by the owner of a famous bakery in Shanghai. The owner was exceptionally friendly, openly sharing his knowledge about networking and marketing.

    For all of his great advice, what struck me the most was how the owner viewed social media. His my profile, my castle mentality meant that he wanted complete control over his social media presence, meaning that he would not tolerate any form of criticism. It was a mentality that struck me as decidedly old school and reminded me of the challenges that I faced trying to get the directors at UCTV to adopt social media. In addition, his “Why let people score on your own goal” attitude was keeping him from creating such simple things as a blog or Facebook page because it would be a huge time commitment to police.

    In my opinion, social media is about opening dialogue and allowing for criticisms to be answered. Facebook pages, twitter and blogs can be used as new channels for customer service. The owner’s attitude towards social media ran counter to what I have heard about his attitude in the restaurant. My friend told me once that when she complained to him about her cake, he immediately took it back, found who was responsible for making it and then immediate corrected the mistake. This act of customer service gave her a great impression of the owner and bakery. There is no reason this kind of great customer service cannot be applied to say a Facebook page, where it would be available for all to see.

    In my experience, there is often a reason for brand bashing and since the owner runs a restaurant which serves amazing cakes and has great customer service to boot, I think his concerns over negative comments are completely unfounded. Not to mention that unjustified criticisms will be dealt with by the bakery’s loyal fans, something which I have seen played out on countless Yelp pages. Fans fighting brand bashing is a phenomenon, which countless companies have discovered upon launching their social media operations.

    As of right now, the bakery only has a presence on Chinese social media sites because they allow for more restrictions on user comments. About half of the bakery’s customers are foreigners meaning that whatever awesome outreach that the owner is doing on social media is only reaching half of its potential. In short, extending the bakery’s social media presence onto Western networks will improve customer service and increase customer-brand interaction as well as bring a host of other benefits that I cannot list out because it would make this blog post too long. Most importantly, all of these benefits can be realized without a significant increase in effort because it would just be a matter of translating and posting on an additional platform.

    I am going to email the owner this blog post, and hope that he reconsiders his social media strategy. If he changes his mind, I will be the first to like the bakery's Facebook page.

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