Social networking can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses and brands, but the medium doesn’t come without its pitfalls.
As the old adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Keeping this in mind, companies advertising their wares, communicating with customers and attempting to solidify their reputations within their industries via social media should be careful what they post. To cite another common saying, once something is put on the Internet, it can never truly be erased…
Whenever you solicit questions and comments from customers via social channels, you need to be prepared for the likelihood that not everybody will have stellar things to say.
A less than Oz-some turn of events
After getting his start on The Oprah Winfrey Show, cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz – more commonly known as “Dr. Oz” – now has his own show and is considered by many to be a bona fide television personality. Naturally, the good doctor is on social media and has a Twitter account, which he frequently uses to promote upcoming appearances and events, dispense health tips and more. In an effort to engage his followers (of whom he had nearly 3.6 million at the time of writing), Oz recently encouraged people to tweet questions to him using the hashtag #OzsInbox, with the promise that he would answer some of his favorites on his website.
Sounds like a viable way to boost interactions with fans of his brand, right? Sure enough, Oz received a number of serious replies from followers wanting to know about everything from how to avoid deep vein thrombosis during air travel to whether insulin resistance can be cured – but those weren’t the only questions in his inbox.
Oz has been dogged by accusations of impropriety, and appeared before a Senate panel earlier this year in connection with his advocacy of certain weight-loss supplements. Many responses referred to this, including “How do you reconcile selling snake oil with the Hippocratic Oath?” and “How do you sleep at night?” Some social media commenters even resorted to calling him names, including “lying, fear-mongering opportunist” and “dangerously irresponsible crook.”
Social media lessons to be learned
Hopefully, your small business is less controversial than Dr. Oz’s career, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some important lessons you can take away from this fiasco. Whenever you solicit questions and comments from customers via social channels, you need to be prepared for the likelihood that not everybody will have stellar things to say. Put together a strategy for handling legitimate criticism in a way that will diffuse rather than escalate the problem.