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What to Do When Someone Says a Competitor Is Better Than You on Social Media

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?

WRONG.

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.

Oh boy.

Oh boy.

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?

 

Take That Thing Off Your Head

I’m an opinionated person (which you know if you’ve read any portion of this blog). So, it’s needless to say that I tend to have strong thoughts about fashion – see Leggings Are Not Pants. Well, this weekend The Boyfriend and I took a trip to the beach. As he was rifling around his car for his wallet to bring with us, he pulled out an accessory he hasn’t worn since…well ever, that I’ve seen. What was this accessory, you ask?

A fedora.

Yep, a fedora. And not the cool, 1920s John Dillinger-type fedora. A douchey, straw Jason Mraz-style fedora. I gave him the old “You’re really not wearing THAT, are you?” And of course he laughed, made some comment about it being badass, and we made our way to the beach.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I’ve noticed that I’ve seen a ton of fedoras this summer. I think the number may be approaching double digits. In my book, one fedora is too many.

I was thinking about it to much that when I was in Dunkin Donuts, breaking a $20 for parking at the beach, I Instagram’d a picture of him, fedora and all, and sent it out to into the social medias. I got three responses (which for me is a lot), and I completely agree with one of them. Guess which:

Mike Brian Facebook

Hat by hat basis, indeed.

Mike Tweet

For reference, he was wearing a pair of Vineyard Vines swim trunks with limes and pink margaritas all over them.

What I really want to know is how fedoras went from being this:

Bogart FedoraTo this:

Douchey Fedora

The world may never know. Anyhoo, if you see someone wearing a fedora, do them a favor and tell them: Take that thing off your head.

How To Get Fired. Fast.

First off, I want to say that my thoughts go out to the victims and their families in Aurora, Colorado. I don’t want to get too into it, but I did want to lead off with that.

Now, on to the subject of this post. This has been a topic that has made many a social media professional want to crawl under their desk the past couple of days (as well as beat me to writing blog posts on it). A company called Celeb Boutique (@celebboutique) made a huge mistake. One that they most likely will have associated with them forever.

On Friday afternoon, their social media person hopped on Twitter and saw that the hashtag #Aurora was trending. Hmm, they said. That must be about us! So they went ahead and posted this little gem:

Well, all hell broke loose. People went nuts, all over Twitter and their Facebook account. Who knows how many followers they lost. (One blog I read said it was about 5k in an hour, but I don’t know how accurate that is.) Plus, they made no response for over an hour and a half. When they finally realized that they effed up, they tweeted this haphazard apology:

Seriously? Let’s look at the problems with this.

First, their PR is not US based. Well, CNN is international news. The BBC was reporting this. Many other international news stations exist. No shortage of sources for this information. A little reading outside of the fashion blogs in their feed would have done them good.

Second, their social media team was “unaware” (capitalized for emphasis) of the situation and thought it was another trending topic. Well, here’s a thought. CLICK ON THE HASHTAG TO SEE WHAT IT’S ABOUT (also capitalized for emphasis). Takes two seconds. This is social media 101, kids. If that was me, I would have been fired AND disowned by my manager. It’s common sense, really.

Third, and this is personal opinion, they’re just idiots. Anyone who has a social media team who doesn’t use due diligence before they post something is not a social media team. They’re a bunch of people who use a twitter account to try and sell their stuff. And now those people have seriously damaged the brand.

Good luck to them, getting their following back. I hope they’re working on disaster recovery. They’re going to need it.

Follow me on Twitter. I read hashtags before I use them: @marymallard

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