The Power of Social Media – Twitter

Part of my job responsibilities at work is to help in our marketing department with in house and client social media. As a technology company that promotes the need for social media our employees like to “practice what we preach” and participate in the various social media outlets ourselves.

I have always been a Facebook fiend, just ask Josh, but that is strictly for my personal life and mingling with my friends and family. I do not accept friend requests from clients, work connections (other than the people I associate with outside of work) or any other people who I do not know personally on a relaxed social level.

Twitter was big for me in college, but then I didn’t find any use in it after some time. It wasn’t until recently that I created a new Twitter account with a professional, public reach that I started getting into the Twitter swing again.

I have had a LinkedIn account since freshman year at Bryant. Having gone to a business school, they really drilled it into our heads that we needed to maintain a LinkedIn profile for professional development and growth. I really only started to see the value after working at my first job for a year. I started receiving random job offers from various companies at least once a month. It was amazing how companies searched these profiles for qualified individuals. Although my activity is limited, I keep my information up to date and constantly make connections with new people.

YouTube has never been my cup of tea beyond binge watching random videos ( you know you have done it too). I am not a video blogger so I don’t have a lot of use for uploading videos, but is a great tool for companies and individuals looking to be heard.

Of course if you are reading this you know I enjoy the art of the written blog these days. I have had many failed attempts at starting a blog but maybe I’ll actually post for more than a month this time. Blogs are a great way to reach an audience. My cousin is a sommelier in NYC and has an amazing blog called Somm in the City, which showcases all of her food and drink experiences. She has seen a lot of success as a writer and critic thanks to blogging as an outreach. We recommend blogging to our clients as a way to provide a value add to their clients.

The one method I want to talk about in particular is Twitter. After a couple poor experiences with some big name companies I decided to tweet at them to express my disappointment. Home Depot, Sears, M&Ms and RI Blood Center. Within a couple minutes or a couple days of tweeting I was messaged and or tweeted back at by the companies who wanted to solve the issues I was having.

If you read my previous post about the chest freezer drama then you know why I tweeted at Home Depot. They tweeted back at me the next day.

Home Depot Tweet

After some phone tag which was partially my fault missing his calls while working, last night I finally got the chance to chat with the customer care representative and explained all of the bad experiences I had this time around. As much as this call was about my complaint, I always like to make sure that any bright spots in the experience are acknowledged too. I let him know of the two men we dealt with that were very kind and bent over backwards to try and help, even though we had went through hell and back. The representative insisted on sending me a $50 e-gift card for my troubles and assured me that my comments would be addressed with the appropriate people. Usually I don’t expect things to ever go anywhere and I assume they just say that to shut me up, but I received a message from the manager at my local Home Depot apologizing for my experience. As usual, I was at work so I could not pick up the call, but it was a nice message. I really do genuinely appreciate knowing that companies are willing to correct issues with their staff and/or operations. I don’t ever intend to complain for free stuff, but to make people aware that their staff may require better training or products need to be better taken care of. If I do something wrong in my job I expect to be corrected to better serve my clients. My bad attitude or lack of customer service skills should never be an excuse as to why my client had a bad experience with either of my companies.

The same day, I also tweeted at Sears after they called me and cancelled my appointment. I also found out at that time that they couldn’t even estimate the job I needed because they didn’t actually do that kind of work. You can read more about that in my heating system rant. But two days later they tweeted back at me wanting to understand more about what happened.

Sears Tweet

I sent them a DM with the details of what happened and received an apology back. My hopes with this complaint is that Sears better trains their employees to know from the start what services they actually offer. Needing to take time out of work or miss doggie training classes can be frustrating enough, but when you find out that they can’t even off you what you need that is the part you hope can be corrected to avoid any more complaints from other customers.

My tweet out to M&Ms was more of a light-hearted tweet. My coworker bought a bag of M&M fun size packages and one of the bags had an empty wrapper, fully sealed missing the candy. So I decided to tweet at M&Ms telling them to be careful messing with a girl and her chocolate.

M&Ms tweet

They responded three days later telling me to call their customer service number. They asked for the package information and told me they wanted to send out some coupons to replace the empty wrapper. I know for companies like this, information on quality control is valued and taken into consideration.

The last of the tweets was to the RI Blood Center. I have donated blood a couple of times now and done so without any issues. Usually I donate on the travelling blood buses with Josh. This time we decided to go into the Blood Center in Warwick. Josh donates double red blood cells so he needs a special machine that not every bus has. Anyone that knows me knows I have a terrible fear of needles, so I usually need Josh with me to keep my pulse and blood pressure from spiking. I usually warn the person taking my vitals that I am terrified of needles and that it can make me spike a bit. Well I wasn’t quite expecting the response I got. The nurse told me my fear of needles was ridiculous and I needed to get over it. Seriously? Once she said that I instantly got angry and as you would have guessed my BP rose. Honestly I wish she would have waited to insult me until after she took my BP, because then I could have donated. Josh was already hooked up to the machine so I couldn’t just leave. So I had to sit there until he was done. I took to Twitter after leaving the center and within minutes I received a response.

Rhode Island Blood Center Tweet

I have not responded to their tweet yet as I was finishing up my errands yesterday and forgot to respond, but I will absolutely give them a call. Considering they are in such need of donations, the last thing their staff should be doing is insulting the donors. Next time I donate I will do so at the local VA hospital instead.

I know what you’re thinking right now. God, does this girl complain a lot! I promise that is not the case. The point I want to make here is the incredible power of social media. I am sure you have sat on the phone many times pressing one for English, 2 for customer service, 2 for the complains line, 6 for the appliance department and so on until you got to a live person. Then, if it’s anything like Verizon, you still don’t have the right person for your problem so you are transferred 3 more times. With one tweet to a company I was able to get a direct response from someone who could solve my issues. In a world where we want it now, social media has helped businesses grow to be better at servicing their customers. I greatly appreciate the responsiveness and willingness to help from these places, especially those that are much bigger and honestly don’t need to care about the one person complaining about an empty packet of candy. The response time may be a little bit longer for the bigger guys compared to the smaller guys (M&Ms – 3 days vs. RIBC – 1/2 hour) but the extension for help is what matters. For those that are customers, social media is a powerful means to getting results. Don’t be afraid to use it. As for businesses, social media gives you the opportunity to make a public complaint work for you rather than against you. We all know every business gets complaints, but being able to see how quickly you respond to a problem, well that’s what matters now more than ever.

Here are a few tips for businesses on how to use social media to your advantage. These are from the perspective of an internet marketing professional, but also from a customer:

  1. Turn the negatives into a positive. Show your customers that complaints are taken seriously and you care.
  2. Respond in a respectable amount of time. Responding 3 weeks later to my complaint is going you look even worse.
  3. Acknowledge the good tweets. People love a response, whether it be favorites, retweets or a tweet back. Make your loyal customers feel more valued.