Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Boy Who Twittered Wolf

Last week, I read a blog which mentioned a website - - created solely to whine and gripe about HSBC Bank. 95% of the comments were complaints and most likely a reflection of the quality (or lack thereof) of HSBC’s customer service. Feeling the love for HSBC? Clearly, the blog’s creator and community are not, and have gone to considerable lengths to share their dissatisfaction with the rest of us. Cheers!

Blogs like HSBC reviews and social media in general have become a modern day soapbox, giving a voice to anyone and everyone with a gripe to air. That’s a great thing, isn’t it? Isn’t it? But then I ask myself, how much attention should we pay to the online rants of the companies vilified? I’ve read some absolutely diabolical posts on Yelp talking about companies with whom I’ve had great experiences. And then again, I’ve had horrid experiences with a number of airlines that my friends have raved about.

Who is right, and who is wrong in the social media equation? And who do we listen to do make an informed decision, really?

Right now, there are a gazillion or more negative content producers using social media to churn out their messages of dissatisfaction. Can’t get satisfaction from customer service reps? Sure, go post some comments. But the unfortunate result to this will be like the boy who cried wolf: using social media as the forum to post scathing comments (already in the millions) will eventually lead to this having no credibility at all.

It’s in our human nature to seek out a scapegoat, but the boy who cried wolf came to a rather tragic ending over a similar practice.

Social media is in relative infancy. As it grows up, we need to find a balance over how much weight we give personal experiences and opinions, and what we choose to do with that information. In time, businesses too will learn to use this data in the most efficient and effective way, to adjust and correct their misdoings and misdeeds.

But until then, our experience with social media is on an upward learning curve. Let’s not abuse it before reaches its peak.

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