One of the “imperatives” the experts say about Twitter and other social media is that all businesses must both monitor and repair their reputations using Twitter (or other online areas). While there are certainly a number of instances where a company has done something really stupid and had it spread rapidly on Twitter, there is NO documented evidence that a company can reclaim their reputation, or protect their brand using Twitter.
The argument many put forth, which is clearly ridiculous if you think about it for 10 seconds, is that people talk on Twitter. So since people talk on Twitter and say bad things about a company, therefore the company needs to go on Twitter to counter act the “bad” rep. it is receiving. Except it doesn’t work that way. The reason is simple.
Think about a front page story in a newspaper that says: “CEO of Airflot arrested for terrorism”, accompanied by a story. Several hundred thousand people read this, and/or the story. That day the newspaper realizes they got it wrong. It wasn’t the CEO, it was a guy named Cy Aiflot who was arrested, so they print a retraction and apology on page 78 of the paper. How many people see the retractions and change their views about the CEO? Everyone who saw the original story? Of course not.
Twitter works in a similar way. 100 people post complaints about HP. I search HP, and guess what I find? 100 complaints. Even IF HP publicly tweeted how the resolved the situation, what chance is there that I will see it among the million other tweets, or that I will read it? I can tell you from experience with this company, and with this situation that while I see somewhere between 10 and 20 HP complaints a day, I NEVER see responses. Since I know HP does participate on Twitter, what do you think I conclude, or what will most people conclude? That HP doesn’t give a darn, or can’t be bothered. That I see complaints that seem to go unanswered when I know HP can see them damages their reputation in my eyes.
(I use HP because I’ve had several disagreements about their warrantees, and not been happy about their customer service, but I can say with confidence that the same could apply to any company, and in fact does).
What IS true about Twitter and brand protection is that a company can be harmed, as it would be in any forum or place where people talk, if dissatisfied people complain out loud. It functions no differently than any place where people chat — computer stores, computer get togethers, parties, whatever. It’s word of mouth, and no company can stop it or reduce its impact within the present organizational climate.
No company can reverse the damage because it cannot reach each and very person who has heard the complaints, AND, change their minds. Can’t be done. Period.
Twitter is irrelevant to the problem and is no different than any other media. The real problem is shoddy service and shoddy products and if you run a small business, don’t bother doing damage control on Twitter. Don’t screw up in the first place.
I have no idea why the social media “experts” are so keen on roping in businesses into what is an impossible task, but then again, you have to see might be in it for them.