Posted by MaryMallard
Welcome to my first social media-related post! Since I work in social, I decided I should probably start writing some educational stuff. So sit back, relax, and enjoy!
A couple weeks ago I had a pretty interesting experience on Twitter with a brand I was considering doing business with, and it got me thinking – there’s a lot of tricky situations that happen in social every day, and there’s a lot of different ways to deal with them. I want to share MY methods of working through this particular situation, in hopes that it can be a help to others.
All Companies are Not Right for All People
When someone is comparing your product or service with someone else’s saying they’re better, your first reaction is probably to get defensive. After all, this is YOUR company they’re talking about. You’re the best for everyone, right?
Generally, all companies are not right for all people. Unless you’re a bacon factory. In which case, carry on. You’re fine. But in most cases, what is right for one customer may not serve another. That’s why we have competitors – they (usually) offer something you don’t, or claim to do whatever you do, better.
So what should you do when someone says, “I think that X company is the same if not better than Y,”? First, take a look at the actual conversation. If it’s on Twitter, look at the previous tweets. Is this in response to what someone else said? Usually tweets or comments like this are part of a larger conversation. The original tweet tends to be someone asking an opinion of their followers, or advice from other people who use yours or a similar product or service. Stepping back and taking a minute to survey the landscape can can help save you from a faux pas in your response.
What Might Happen if You Call Out a Competitor
When you see someone comparing you to another guy, your first thought may be, “They’re so wrong! They don’t understand my company! I need to change this!” That’s basically what happened in my exchange. They called out their competitor by name, and asked their community to try and change my opinion.
How did it turn out? It started a FIRESTORM. Customers of this brand were tweeting at me left and right, and some of them weren’t so nice. Not helpful, not constructive. Is that really how you want your business represented to potential customers? Didn’t think so.
The one positive point of the situation is that this company clearly has a really passionate community. Harnessing that passion can be a great tool, if you use it correctly. In this case, it wasn’t done so well.
So, How Could This Have Been Handled Differently?
In this particular scenario, I have a two-pronged approach.
1. Leave your competitor out of it. – I am VERY against calling out a competitor like that. It isn’t helpful, and it’s bad form. Like I said before, what you provide isn’t right for everyone. So don’t make yourself look bad by trying to put down other companies who are also in your industry.
2. Let your community help. – Any time someone is looking to do business with you, the best thing you can do is BE HELPFUL. Instead of trying to change someone’s opinion, direct them to your community in a way that encourages constructive conversation. After all, they’re the ones who are using your product or service!
For example, you can retweet someone and say “Can anyone help Joe?”, or “Anyone have experience with this?”. It will be far more well received by the potential customer, and your audience, and is more likely to lead to a sale.
The one thing I want to drive home here is that your first interaction with a potential customer is the most important one. How you treat their questions and comments really reflects back on you as a company, and can really influence their decision one way or another. Taking a few minutes to step back, take and breath, and create a thoughtful response can really make a huge difference.
What’s your strategy for dealing with this type of situation?