The impact of social media…

social-media-marketingI’m beginning to wonder if the rise of social media may be playing an unseen and unmeasured  role in the US economic crisis.

This thought train began a few months ago while watching Mad Money.  Jim Cramer was talking about Nokia and Dell – two companies who were blaming dismal sales on the state of the economy. Cramer correctly pointed out that if it’s “raining” for one business then it should be “raining” on everyone in the neighborhood.  So while both these companies were complaining about the dismal economy and how it’s the reason for their suffering sales, both these companies have competitors who are:

a) kicking their respective asses with better products and better customer service

b) doing great in sectors with strong growth despite the “dismal” economy.

Which made me wonder -are Nokia and Dell’s sales figures victims of social media? After all, if there were ever going to be two products heavily affected by negative buzz in social media circles, two sectors which would be appropriate “canaries” would be the mobile phone and computers.

Is is possible social media is responsible for slowly killing these giant companies?

Social Media – it’s a moral imperative

Social media makes communication easy, fun but most importantly PERMANENT!

There was a time – when your advertising and other marketing messages didn’t live forever, easily accessed by the search engines.

That was then – this is now.

Disappoint customers today and they’ll take to the tools of social media to share their experience with others. Those disparaging remarks will live on – and if you’re not on top of your online reputation’s SERPS – those customer complaints may end up being featured front and center.

The consequences of disappointing your customers can be more severe than just a negative rating on a single website. Disappointed customers who feel strongly can now easily, post a Tweet, create a video – create a Facebook Fan Pages – or worse yet – blog about your current customer service.

I’m working on a Dell computer.  Well, it’s a Dell wearing an Alienware mask.  I was sold on Alienware – not from an ad in a magazine but from personal recommendations from other Alienware users. I purchased my Alienware shortly after they were acquired by Dell.  In short, I spent $2500 on a freaking POS Dell computer with a souped up power supply and a glowing alien face.  I bought the BS being spread that Dell wouldn’t impose their shitty quality upon the Alienware line.

To say I’ve been disappointed with my Dell purchase would be an understatement.  Let’s just say – tears were shed, threats were issued and I was loading up my Sunpass for a trip to Miami to visit the Alienware headquarters to voice my displeasure in person.  When I heard Dell’s earning suck – my thought was  “GOOD!!! If they’re still in business – their earnings don’t suck enough!!!!”

Is it possible that the Dell “economic slow down” is really just the result of information flowing freely online? Is it possible Dell’s woes are not rooted in poor economic conditions but rather the fact that they sell crappy computers?   Is it possible their users are WARNING others via social media?

Which got me to thinking… is it possible that Betsy Wuebker’s post WELLS FARGO DUMPS ON A GRIEVING MOTHER is joining forces with literally hundreds of other Wells Fargo customer service horror stories?  Is it possible that these individual blog posts could eventually create a tsunami for Wells Fargo?

Which brings up the question…

Is social media already making a real economic impact on businesses?

Jim Cramer only stated that poorly run companies often blame their poor performance on the market instead of upon management where it belongs.  However, as Cramer  talks about products that don’t perform – I keep thinking of blog posts which have “outed” those products long ago and still linger online today.

How many blog posts does it take to bring down a corporate giant?  Has social media as a medium reached the point of being capable of taking down a company of any size?

I don’t believe that we’ve reached that “critical mass” yet – but I believe that day is coming.  Stay tuned!


  1. Hi Kathy – Thanks for the link! I think we’ll see the magic number go down a bit. It shouldn’t take a million YouTube views to get United to do a better job handling luggage. And while I was upset that Wells Fargo’s policy allowed their idiot employee to act like a jerk to my friend, I was more pissed about the employee than the company. But…the employee is the face of the company, though, aren’t they? Bottom line – crappy service, lousy ethics, and trash for product is all fodder for communication. Caveat emptor just got some new tools! 😀
    .-= Betsy Wuebker´s last blog ..THROUGH A GLASS GRIMLY, PART 3 =-.

  2. Hmm, Betsy has said it all really hasn’t she! My question is: Does Social Media ONLY Work For Complaining?

    What are your thoughts on this?
    .-= Amelia Vargo´s last blog ..301 Redirects – Search Engine Optimisation Tutorial =-.

  3. You raise some excellent points. I always say that everything counts. Every deed, spoken word and thought contributes to momentum in one direction or another. So damn straight it’s making a difference! Free speech is a lovely thing when it can be retweeted and spread across networks that want to know! Excellent post and good thinking.
    .-= Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog ..Is Your Business Authentic? =-.

  4. I think Dooce put a big hurt on Maytag? Or something like that, via Twitter.

    If a blogger or Tweeter knows SEO and all those tricks, masses can hear the complaints and hear them very quickly.

    I am thinking Dell pre-programs their computers to self-destruct one day after they hit 3 years old. I swear! Macs cost a lot I hear but I might save up and get one. Apparently, those who like ’em like ’em a lot.
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..And So On. And So On. And So On. =-.

  5. Betsy – spot on as usual.

    Amelia – the squeaky wheel tends to get the oil. Also, there’s another factor at work. A happy customer will tell on average 3 people about your business – and and UNHAPPY one will tell on average 16 – so bitching tends to happen more than raving.

    Social media DOES do a great job of building authority and reputation. It’s a great tool to “spread the word”.

    Tom – I love “Everything counts”. OMG – that is priceless!!!

    Jannie- Twiiter – Facebook – blogging – they’re all powerful communication tools.

  6. Social Media says:

    Well – They ARE tools! Isn’t is dangerous to totally focus on the tools, and not in the behaviour?

    Magnus // Sweden