Social Media and You

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    More than ever, your reputation relies on social media

    At a time when 89 percent of consumers say they find online channels trustworthy sources for product and service reviews, new Cone research reveals four-out-of-five consumers have changed their minds about a recommended purchase based solely on negative information they found online. This is up from just 67 percent of consumers who said the same in 2010, according to the 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker. Positive information has a similar effect on decision making, with 87 percent of consumers agreeing a favorable review has confirmed their decision to purchase. But, negative information is gaining traction and is now just as powerful in tipping the scales against a recommended purchase.

    If you didn’t know by now that social media holds immense potential for any business, then you’ve been living in a hole somewhere for the past several years. What this quote, from the Cone Communications 2011 Online Influence Trend Tracker report, does, is put several staggering figures in front of us.

    Combine the fact that four out of five consumers have reversed purchase decisions based purely on negative online reviews with the flip side of 87% confirming their decision via favorable reviews and you get an idea of the massive power everyday people are wielding when they discuss your company online.

    Even with our best efforts, consumers occasionally have negative experiences. Products break, shipping lines are disrupted, or a phone rep has a bad day, and this is likely to be reported quickly on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and more. What differentiates the cream of the crop from an average company is how they respond. Do a bit of crisis management, figure out the problem, FIX IT, and reply to your disgruntled customer where everyone can see. Just this small action could turn their negative post into a positive selling point.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]