Word-of-Mouth in Social Media

By Brian Silverman   |   June 23, 2015

Word-of-Mouth in Social Media can be Brutal for a New Business

Take a Few Keys to Success from the TV Networks

by Brian Silverman

Just a few years back, if you were a new retail establishment, — a new bank in town, medical urgent care center or a restaurant, you knew the first step to success was to get your doors open.  A fresh idea, good service, new cuisine: whatever your new business — getting the doors open was the first step because the key to your success would be word-of-mouth from your new customers.  This meant your business had some time to get the “kinks” out. If you failed to serve an appetizer on time, had long wait times to see a physician or had the wrong price on an item at your store, you had time to improve.

The days when businesses used to be allowed to “get it right” are gone. With social media, along with review sites like Yelp, a few bad experiences and comments online can cause your business to close almost as quickly as it opened. We have seen restaurants and retail establishments open and close within a month due to unfavorable comments online as much as anything to do with the food or even the overall service.  In one example, I had eaten at a restaurant, (yes it was a little too loud and the service was not perfect), but I thought give them time and they will improve.  A month later, I went onto opentable, and that restaurant was closed with little more than a peep, unless you went to Yelp and social media and saw all of the negative comments.

The timeframe for success has accelerated.  Businesses can learn from the TV networks.  In television, the TV industry and TV networks in particular have moved away from giving a show time to “find an audience,” to the need for a show to be a success from the very beginning.  This has changed how the networks buy shows, as they now buy fewer episodes up front. The shows are expensive and there is so much choice on the tube that if the audience is not immediately there, they won’t come back.

But TV networks have found success in this new world of immediacy of content and access. Businesses can take a few pointers from them as well:

  • Once you lose an audience they are gone. You have to get it right from the first: Don’t expect to fix things after opening. Everyone expects a hiccup or two. But if you aren’t truly ready to open, it’s better to delay than to have bad social press.
  • Previews can help refine the show and build early buzz: Do a soft opening or open house to test the process and perceived value in a safe setting. This will not only be a safe environment but will also give you a chance to build interest across all communications outlets prior to opening.
  • Pay attention to the media noise across all outlets: As important as the sign is on your building, consider your web and social presence as well, in today’s world, Google may find you open before that casual customer passes by.
  • One bad review is not the end of the world: If you have a bad review, make sure to get the details and respond appropriately. Responsiveness to bad reviews can actually show genuine concern for the customer. A lack of response or a bad response can show a lack of desire to please your customers!

Businesses who realize the power of social media, and use it successfully, will see their success accelerate more quickly than in the traditional “word-of-mouth” days!

About the Author

Brian Silverman is a Senior Marketing Strategist at DeLaune and Associates. His career spans more than 25 years of success and leadership with IBM. IBM partners, and companies in sales, marketing, and product management.

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