If I asked you to demonstrate how an average Joe, empowered by social media, can wreak havoc on a brand, what examples would you choose?
You might point to our industry's three best known examples of companies getting burned by dissatisfied customers -- Dell Hell, the sleeping Comcast technican and Vincent Ferrari's attempt to cancel his AOL account -- all of which not only set the blogosphere afire but also sparked mass media coverage and caused the corporate villians a world of hurt. (Of these three, it's worth noting that only Dell seems to have learned anything from the experience.) Or you might point to some more recent disasters-in-the-making. Either way, you probably wouldn't have too hard a time coming up with plenty good examples.
And if I asked you to demonstrate how an average Joe (or even a band of average Joes and Janes) has made a similarly large positive impact on a brand, what examples would you choose?
Can you think of even one? I'm not talking about cases where the companies themselves make good and appropriate use of social media channels to market themselves or tap so-called "regular people" for the creation of brand content. I'm talking about instances when actual consumers -- unprompted, uncompensated and of their own accord -- commend a company that has delivered a great experience, leading to an explosion in blog and mainstream media coverage and tons of positive brand impact.
Here's the thing -- lots of people are talking and blogging about great brand experiences every day but, taken one at a time, each seems to be a quiet affair. Nearly 20,000 people subscribe to the Ikea Hacker blog but I don't believe I've ever seen coverage of Ikea fandom on the evening news. The same could be said for the thousands of people who trade Coke memorabilia in this online forum or the thousands that participate in the SaturnFans community.
I'm sure you get the point. So why is it what truly organic social media can play such a pivotal role in burning brands but seem to play a lesser role in building them up?
Maybe it's just human nature -- we're obsessed with bad news (you don't see too many puppy-and-kitten stories on the evening news either) and we like rooting for the underdog. Or maybe even the people who love our products and services simply don't love them enough. Or perhaps the unfortunate reality is that bad experiences are far more common than good ones, so they resonate with a much wider audience.
What do you think?