Last week, I talked to a class at Belmont University about my social media journey and the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.
The best part of the class wasn’t my talk, but the wonderful thought-provoking questions from the students.
One question, in particular, really stood out to me. Here’s what this student asked:
“Let’s say you are working with a company or organization that is really struggling or isn’t that great — how can you use social media to promote their business and make them look better?”
My short answer?
I told him that if your business sucks offline, your business would suck even more online.
After all, social media adds a magnifying glass to everything you do. Your every move is public and it gives people a forum to talk about you — both the good and the bad.
If you have a bad product or service, social media just amplifies that.
Many companies think that social media is a magic wand that will solve a company’s deeper issues.
While social media is powerful, it cannot fix underlying business problems. That would be like putting lipstick on a pig.
Social Media Alone Can’t Fix Customer Service Issues
Let me give you an example that I shared with the class.
Comcast is notoriously bad with customer service. But, Comcast tried to change that. Or, at least one person at Comcast – Frank Eliason — tried to make a dent in the customer service problems at the company.
Five or six years ago, Frank Eliason became famous for developing the @ComcastCares Twitter account. Frank and his team used the account to answer questions and field complaints from the public.
It quickly became popular because people found they could get their issues resolved much quicker through Twitter than through the traditional customer service department.
I can attest to this personally. When we had issues with our service a few years back, I tweeted to the account in frustration after getting nowhere through customer service. And, my problem was resolved much quicker through Twitter.
Fast-forward to today – @ComcastCares still exists, but Frank is no longer there.
And Comcast still has the same customer service issues. In fact, my husband’s law firm has been experiencing service drops for the past couple of months, and they have been unable to get it resolved despite dozens of calls to customer service.
So, I decided to tweet at them. But, guess who responded?
Not Comcast. At least not right away.
It was AT&T who quickly chimed in an offered to help us switch. Comcast didn’t respond until more than a day later. And we still didn’t get anywhere with them.
My husband isn’t alone in his experience. The company has had some very public, very embarrassing customer service problems in the past year:
They refused to cancel someone’s service. And the recording of that call went viral.
And there was the customer who was charged $1,000 for canceling his service.
Not to mention, Consumerist named Comcast the worst company in America in 2014.
Why Social Media Isn’t Enough
What Frank Eliason did at Comcast several years ago was innovative and did make a difference, but it wasn’t enough. Comcast continues to have systemic service issues and a chronic customer service problem.
That’s not something social media alone can fix.
Comcast has a business problem. And not just with their services. They are confronting a shift in how people watch TV.
Many people are cutting the cord in favor of online streaming options. And those that choose to stay with cable are finding other options — especially considering the terrible customer service issues and spotty service.
No wonder Comcast is bleeding cable subscribers.
If you want social media to help your business, start by having a stellar product or service that you can stand behind.
Focus on fixing the issues that your customers have with your brand first. Take the time to understand their needs and how customers use your products and services. And then, from there you can use social media to amplify your efforts.
But, you must take those steps first. Otherwise, social media just becomes a Band-Aid for bigger business problems.
What do you think? Can social media help solve business issues?
4 replies on “Why Social Media Can’t Fix Your Business Problems”
Excellent article. I have given similar presentations which I called “Lipstick on a pig”
Thanks, Ian! And, love that presentation title! 🙂
I have written a blog that references your blog. It goes out on 29th. I will ping you a link when it is live
Awesome! Thanks, Ian. I can’t wait to read it.