Monday, August 31, 2009

Social Media as the Eye of Sauron

"The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable."- JRR Tolkien

I had an interesting real-time social media moment today that bears repeating as a warning for those who underestimate the immediate power of SM and the PR as well as promotional benefits of being able to listen to your consumer.

I have several Tweetdeck alerts for ongoing projects, brands, etc. One of these is The Comedy Store, my place of employment, which is an incredible, but badly damaged brand. It is a hard sell most of the time, and our product is still not in great shape after 20 something years of complete neglect and a pretty gnarly reputation for being unfriendly to outsiders.

My mantra since arriving here has been built around this Brand Heaven and Hell illustration that I found when I first started dawdling in marketing.

(If anyone can tell me who is responsible for it, I'd love to give him/her credit.)

Brand H&H

If you'll note, one of the most basic steps, the FIRST step, in fact, is "Positive interactions".

A customer had a negative interaction today with one of the guys who works our phones. He tweeted about it approximately five minutes after his interaction. Seconds after he tweeted, I received a notice, and read this tweet: "Just called "The Comedy Store" to find out about open mic and the guy was a dick... so nothing unusual."

With that comment, not only was the customer able to let me know that we had dropped the ball, but he also let his 198 followers know as much too. Not only did he tell them that our customer service was terrible, but he also told them we had a history of such things. BAD brand karma. I tried to recover from it, offering the usual free admissions and apologies, but the damage has been done. In real time, with a nearly immediate effect, I saw our brand depleted by one idiot employee's insensitivity and i saw that message delivered into 200 people's feeds, and I pray he's not linked his twitter ans Facebook accounts. This is the world of Social Media, where the negative can be spread as quickly if not more so than the information you export. For someone like me who spends most of his waking hours attempting to paint the kindest, most sincere and positive picture of this place, it is infuriating when that is derailed by an insensitive employee who frankly, is not doing his job. Like Sauron's evil eye, a Negative interaction will find you through social media and "pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable."


*** UPDATE!!
After my overtures the customer above decided to swing by on the day we were holding a special promotion for new comics. I was greeted by this tweet from his stream this morning which I promptly retweeted: "Had a great time at The Comedy Store... people were really nice and it was great fun watching new comics work."

What an amazing interaction.

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