Do you remember several years ago
when that AOL customer taped his conversation with an AOL rep who tried to
bully him out of cancelling his account? It showed up all over the news, online
and in print. What if you had seen an ad for AOL after seeing that news story?
Is there anything they could have said to make you want to do business with
them? Behold the power of word of mouth.
In today’s world, word of mouth
is instantaneous. We don’t have to wait for the news. With the advent of
tmz.com and other paparazzi sites, we can see what Britney Spears is doing at
this instant, should we so desire.
A great but somewhat scary example
of this happened at South by Southwest recently. The 23 year old billionaire
founder of Facebook was interviewed for the keynote. You could feel the
excitement in the room as we all waited to absorb what made him so successful.
The interview didn’t go well. But
instead of audience members privately thinking their opinions, they instantly
got online (thanks to Twitter, Meebo, etc.) and began a conversation berating
the interviewer. The “horde’s” disdain was palpable. My point is that the
keynote wasn’t even over when hundreds of opinions, photos, etc. were posted
Dell made virtual history a few
years ago when it acknowledged its notebook batteries catching on fire on its
corporate blog. Before this, Dell’s blog was antiseptic, filled with marketing
speak. Dell's perception was changed to that of a trusted advisor when Dell publicly acknowledged the issue that everyone was talking about.
no longer control the message and they should learn to
embrace it. Realize that broad conversations are happening about you, whether you choose to take part or not. Be involved in the conversation in an
authentic, trustworthy way. If you don't provide it, don't be surprised when
customers look elsewhere.