As social media booms, so too does consumer voice. With over 500 million active Facebook users (Facebook, 2011), 200 million Twitter accounts (Johansmeyer, 2011), and hundreds of additional networking and/or forum-based sites, consumers demand to be heard, and they demand to be heard now.
In a March 2011 ClickZ article, Robin Neifield discusses the impact of responding to negative consumer reviews via social media. Buyers insist on excellence; a consumer is more likely to take the time to express frustration with a faulty product and/or service versus feelings of satisfaction following an expected pleasant experience (Neifield, 2011). Dialogue on behalf of other consumers is welcome, but dialogues on behalf of the companies that trigger the posts are both unexpected and ideal. While positive reviews support brand credibility, the transformation of negative reviews into positive reviews support brand loyalty development due to consumer experience optimization. Successful brands such as Lululemon Athletica exhibit the importance of optimizing the consumer experience and developing an engaged brand community via response to not only negative comments, but also to retail inquiries and even current events.
The article links to a 2011 RightNow Fact Sheet: 68% of consumers who posted a complaint after a holiday shopping experience gone wrong were contacted directly by the retailer. Results were seen in the form of comment deletion (34%), a subsequent positive review (33%), and consumer loyalty (18%).
The results are evident, and the consumer has spoken: a company can dramatically improve brand image and increase sales via social network monitoring and interaction. The mastery of social tools utilized by consumers for fun and self-expression has transformed into a requirement for industry success.
- Neifield, R. (9 March 2011). Customer experience: Your most important optimization. ClickZ.
- Right Now (2011). The Retail Consumer Report. Right Now.
- Facebook (2011). Press Room. Facebook.
- Johansmeyer, T. (3 Feb 2011). 200 million Twitter accounts: But how many are active? Social Times.