Why businesses using social media badly, is worse than them not using it at all.

by Veronica on December 15, 2011

in Blogging, Soapbox

Finally, small businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon. Sure, it took them two years to catch up to the rest of us, but here they are finally, tweeting and facebooking away.

It’s good, isn’t it?

Well…. maybe not.

When I find a new product that I love, the first thing I do is hunt them down on twitter, or facebook. This way, I keep track of lots of products I enjoy, through various social media channels – although twitter is the biggest way I follow.

What I’ve noticed happening though, is businesses using social media badly. Things like not responding to questions, refusing to acknowledge new followers and generally acting like they’re “bigger” than everyone else out there in this pond.

News flash: Social Media has lowered the barriers between businesses and consumers and consumers are not wanting to be talked at anymore. They want a conversation and a business they can relate to.

It’s called SOCIAL MEDIA for a reason – you use it to be SOCIAL.

When I spot small businesses on Twitter not following back their buyer base, I get grumpy. You’ve got 300 followers, but only follow back 30 people and refuse to reply to me if I ask you a question, or respond to your tweets? Sorry, but maybe I don’t want to buy your product anymore.

I see a lot of Tassie businesses wanting my money and yet, they won’t follow back on twitter. They won’t be drawn into conversation, they won’t respond to my tweets and a few of them have been downright rude.

If you can’t be polite to your clientele, then how do I know that you’re a business I want to support?

I can see that a lot of businesses are aiming at being “exclusive” and I call bullshit.

Exclusivity in your conversations does not make your product more desirable. It doesn’t make me want to visit your restaurant or buy your product, knowing that you have 800 followers and only follow back 30 of them. How is that the POINT of SOCIAL media?

It’s just mind boggling to me, that businesses would treat their customer base like they’re unworthy to be spoken to.

Here’s the thing – you don’t have to be knowledgeable about social media to do it well. You just have to be friendly.

That’s all we want.

And honestly, having a rude social media presence is worse than not having one at all.

Kathy December 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Agree, agree, agree. (That was profound and insightful, I know, but at this time of the evening it’s the best I got 🙂

Veronica December 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Ha, I know the feeling. I had one last burst of energy.

sleepydwarf December 15, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Also agree! I don’t mind so much if they don’t follow back on Twitter, but it’s incredibly rude if they don’t respond when you tweet them. If they just are using it to promote their business and not actually interacting with their followers, then they have totally missed the point and might as well not use Twitter.

Veronica December 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm

For me, the twitter thing depends on the business, as to whether I’ll stay following them or not. Not responding is my absolute pet peeve – whether it’s to emails or tweets, or any form of communication. The LEAST you can do is respond and be polite in that response.

frogpondsrock December 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

“And honestly, having a rude social media presence is worse than not having one at all.”
That line there my lovely is the crux of the whole matter.

A small local business unfollowed me and I asked them why? I had been tweeting anti religion tweets that day as well as a lot of #OWS stuff and I was genuinely interested in their reasons. Dead silence. So I waited a day or two until I saw them on twitter and I asked them again. Again they ignored me.
So what started out with me asking why they unfollowed me because I was interested in an academic sort of way, ended up with me getting shitty at being ignored. And now I WILL NOT step foot in that business.
I will not tweet negative comments about that business but I will talk about how rude they were to my friends when I meet them in person.

Veronica December 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Yes, it is the crux of the matter.

And on the flip side, there are plenty of businesses who are doing a really good job, which is great to hear. But the ones who aren’t, are not doing themselves any favours.

Mrs Woog December 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm

A business is not a business without customers. Xx

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 8:08 am


kalamac December 15, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I don’t tend to follow companies, but I recently started following actor Chris Gorham, and got a nice little ‘thanks for following’ message. Even if it’s a form thing that gets sent out to all his followers, it is nice to be acknowleged.
Weirdly I’ve just had two small clothing companies start following me, and I have no idea why.

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 8:09 am

I think businesses follow us for the same reason we follow them. To stay connected and to hear what the potential customer base is saying.

Karen December 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Though I do have a Twitter account for my business, I don’t always follow other businesses back because so many of them only post spammy check-out-my-products posts with no indication that there is an actual human being somewhere in the mix. I have no problem with companies promoting their products, but I also like to see replies to customers and retweets to let me know their is a person in charge of the account.

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 8:10 am

I don’t follow anyone who is spammy-check-out-my-product and nothing else. I like people and I like to talk to them. I think that letting us see a person behind the account is very important, for the connection factor.

There are an awful lot of businesses out there who are doing it really well – and an equal amount who are not.

Tracey T December 16, 2011 at 6:34 am

I wonder if some are not really fully up on the whole twitter thing? I must admit, gulp, that I joined up and have not really been back to Twitter and don’t engage regularly. However, as a business making the committment to be onboard with Twitter from a marketing perspective … bit silly on their behalf if they don’t and if they are being selective, well, they can get stuffed I say!!

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 8:13 am

I think not really knowing what twitter is about is a good possibility for a lot of them – but like I said, if they’ve signed up and done nothing with it, that is at least better than signing up and doing it terribly! Tassie businesses (especially the foodie ones) seem to be terrible for aiming at “exclusivity” in their conversations and it bothers me.

Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses December 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

Totally agree, V. Just because you’re online, doesn’t mean you should act any different than you would in real life.
I have to admit, I find my business accounts more challenging than my personal accounts, but I certainly wouldn’t ever be rude, ignore people or not follow. Mainly because of my point above.

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I can imagine that business accounts are tougher than personal accounts, but polite is something easy, surely? (I think you do perfectly well with your business account btw)

Kellie @ Three Li'l Princesses December 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Thanks Veronica. x

Mel B December 16, 2011 at 8:19 am

I totally agree. I’ve unfolded a few businesses because of this. One in particular would have had a sale from me if they had bothered to reply to my tweet asking them about online stockists of a particular product of theirs. Instead they got unfollowed by me due to their lack of any effort on their part to reply to me!

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I’ve had similar experiences. If you can’t respond to a direct question from me (even when I can see that you’re online, or have been online since I’ve asked) then why do I want to spend my money with you?

Mel B December 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

That would be unfollowed, not unfolded… Another iPhone spellcheck fail!

Renee December 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

Great post and totally agree. Having been on both sides, I must say that I always really enjoyed the customer interaction on Twitter and FB. I know that I love when I get a personalised response from a company, it makes me incredibly loyal to that brand – and why wouldn’t I want to elicit that from my followers as well? Simple marketing and customer service – make people feel valued and they will return.

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I think this is it exactly and from what I’ve seen, most of the businesses I interact with think like you do. Which is great!

Recycled Relix December 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I also have Facebook for my business and I have signed up to Twitter when I got my iphone however I have no idea how to use Twitter, sorry! I have to say though that on my personal Facebook I have Liked Autograph and if you get a chance, have a look at the bad comments it gets from the masses. Each time it puts an item on, it gets bad comments re quality and price – even some of their managers have been putting comments on and Autographs answer to bad comments is to delete them! I would have to say they would be better off without Facebook.

Veronica December 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Twitter is basically a giant conversation and I totally understand people not knowing how to use twitter, or not getting it. I signed up and then didn’t touch it for six months, because I couldn’t work it out.

My complaints are really about the businesses who use twitter and understand what it’s basically for – but ignore their customer base in favour of chatting with their “exclusive” clientele. Bothers me.

I’ll check out Autograph now, you’ve intrigued me!

Maid In Australia December 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Well said. Certainly no presence is better than a bad one. Companies like @flyairNZ and @giapo have been doing it well for years, generating thousands of dollars of advertising and PR without spending a cent except for the time of whoever is tweeting for them. (IN @giapo’s case, it was giapo himself, I’m not sure if that has changed as his business has grown). I’ve also had good responses from @MrVintage (how funny, these are all NZ companies), and @LindtAustralia and @CadburyAustralia. Instant responses, and often funny and very personable. They make me want to do business with them. I actually make it a point now to do business as much as possible with companies/business I find on twitter. House-cleaners, movers, web-designers, hair-dressers, massage therapists, insurance brokers, the lot. I just find I get to know them and that they are genuine people just like me, and I like to spend my money with them rather than an unknown entity/big company.

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