Every Year, 1 Billion Tweets Diss Products. How Are You Managing Your Social Support?

July 19, 2011

If you’’re part of a company that still believes social media is just a phase that will blow over, DON’’T watch the socialnomics.com YouTube video “Social Media Revolution 2” without first shooting yourself with a tranquilizer dart. You might have a deadly panic attack otherwise.

It reels off a set of stunning statistics designed to get you to wake up and immediately start friending everyone you know, and provoke anxiety among those businesses that have yet, or have only half-heartedly, begun to integrate social channels into their support strategy.

A small sample of the outrageously compelling stats include:

  • 1/3 of the 200,000,000 extant blogs discuss opinions about products and brands.
  • Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million customers; television 13 years; the Internet four; while Facebook signed up 200 million users in less than a year. (Of course, in most cases, joining Facebook didn’t involve an outlay of $$).
  • 78% of people trust peer reviews, but only 14% trust ads.
  • Facebook tops Google in weekly traffic, and YouTube is the second most popular search engine.

Customers Move Fast and So Should You

And even though research company Textwise says only 4% of the more than 110 million tweets published daily involve recommending or dissing products, that still totals some billion complaints a year on Twitter alone. Many companies rightly surmise that if they stand mutely on the sidelines and don’’t become proactive, they risk losing current customers, and even worse, future ones, as well.

Just ask Netflix, whose recent price increases royally ticked off customers, leading to its primary support channels becoming completely overwhelmed. Customers tapped out the Netflix blog’s 5,000 comment limit, overloaded the company’s phone lines, and even managed to fire enough angry tweets that the debacle become a trending topic on Twitter. Surely, Netflix most likely had some kind of proper social support strategy in place, but the lesson learned here is that any real-time support strategy needs to be able to act quickly and nimbly and should integrate with whatever you use to manage your help desk. For instance, any tweets that mention Zendesk are immediately turned into what we like to call a “twicket,” that is, a tweet that is converted into a support ticket. And if suddenly thousands of twickets are flooding out system, anyone using Zendesk can start to see that their support desk is getting slammed and react accordingly.

One example of a company responding effectively to the demand for real-time support is Delta Airlines. This past winter, when snowstorms caused massive flight delays and cancellations in the Northeast, and elsewhere, Delta earned kudos in the New York Times precisely because it proactively used Twitter to stem customer dissatisfaction, find many Twitter users flights or other aid, and turn negative bleats into cheers.

Part of that involved Delta monitoring tweets about itself between an individual and his/her followers.

Customers Now Expect Companies Will “Follow” Them

You might think that this would raise hackles among Americans, who have long guarded and cherished their ‘right to privacy,” the notion that an individual should be able to speak and act freely, without fear that their private communications are being surreptitiously observed.

Not so much. In the Twitterverse, it’s becoming increasingly clear that those notions are quaint and out-the-window, and many users want, and even expect, their Facebook interactions and tweets to be followed by companies, and that said businesses will butt in and take steps to resolve the situation.

Social media will not be fading into the sunset any time soon, quite the contrary. And while many companies are proceeding cautiously, the ones that are embracing the new technology and taking the initiative to interact with customers, are reaping rewards.

Start integrating social channels into your support strategy ASAP with our guide to multi-channel support and our tip sheet for supporting customer on Twitter.

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