online sharing

One Negative Review Leads to a Lawsuit

One man, posting anonymously under the username “JT”, shared his thoughts of his rented apartment’s property management company on Yelp.  The result: the company is suing JT for defamation.  Needless to say, this raises numerous questions about what we can and cannot, or should and should not be writing online.  Do your online reviews and recommendations fall under your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech?  JT maintains that what he wrote was “not pretty, but it was true.”  The property management company claims his opinion is welcome but they merely wanted to clear up inaccuracies. For business, making the hasty decision to file a lawsuit over a detracting comment, post, or review may be the worst idea…ever.  It just continues a stream of bad press.  Instead, see this detractor as a huge opportunity to flex your customer service skills.  Acknowledge, respond in a timely manner, and try to solve the problem to the benefit of both parties.

I recently had a somewhat similar situation happen on the Facebook page of my family’s business, a small dairy company in New Jersey. One of our customers had a displeasing trip to one of our stores where an employee treated him rudely.  He was so miffed that he felt the need to write a lengthy and disapproving post on our wall.  I wrote him back privately and told him that we were extremely surprised and saddened to hear about his experience, guaranteed we would speak to the employees working on the offending night, and offered him coupons to come back to the store.  He wrote me back and said he “appreciated my response” and was “glad to feel welcomed again”.  Did I need to incentivize him?  Probably not.  But, what’s important is that instead of deleting the post from Facebook and ignoring it – I took 5 minutes to address his concern and make sure we didn’t lose a customer.  Any company should (and can) use social media to its fullest advantage – creating ample amounts of Advocates willing to recommend you.  Oh, and JT’s lawsuit has since been withdrawn.  Seems the property management company found a better way to handle the situation.

-Lucy Arnold, Marketing Intern, Zuberance

Why Do People Share?

The New York Times Customer Insight Group has put out a very comprehensive study titled “The Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share Online?”  The report identifies our motivations behind sharing, if there are certain personalities more likely to share content, and what this all could mean for advertisers. (Download report here.)

The concept of sharing is nothing new.  We have hopefully all been taught the value of sharing from a very young age.  The difference is the reach and the ease of sharing has changed: online sharing is fast and extensive.  Because of this, we share more content, more often.

The group surveyed are classified as “medium /heavy online sharers”.   Some results are as follows:

  • 73% agreed they processed information more deeply and thoroughly when they shared it.
  • 85% said that reading other people’s responses helps them understand and process information and events.
  • A whopping 94% of participants said they share because they think the information is useful to the recipient – they want to help.

Sharing has made us hyper-aware of the things that we do.  We want to tell people about them because we want to enrich the lives of others.  This was the number one reason for sharing, behind “nourishing relationships”, “supporting causes or issues” and “self-fulfillment”.  Fittingly, one personality type that’s inclined to share is an altruist.  These people are simply trying to be helpful, thoughtful and stay connected.

For marketers, the altruists are the group you most want to focus on.  The study instructs brands to “appeal to consumers’ motivation to connect with each other” not just with the brand.  Trust and simplicity are mentioned as well, as is a nod to the fact that e-mail is still the number one way people share content.

Social recommendations are the currency of the future.  More and more people are not only sharing information online – but they are relying on it to make informed purchase decisions.  As a brand, you need to allow your customers the opportunity to share an experience, product or deal through social means.

-Lucy Arnold, Marketing Intern, Zuberance