The growing popularity of social media networks provides even more opportunities for consumers to give their opinion or complaints. Today, virtually every online consumer creates CGM through their social media channels or their posts on review and rating sites. Because consumer-generated media is everywhere, traditional marketers and advertisers no longer have control over the messages being circulated about their company, products, or services. Nor do they have control over the medium in which those messages are being presented. When a consumer uses a search engine to search for a particular company, brand, or product, it’s almost certain that postings created by other consumers will be among the top results.
Understanding and monitoring the impact CGM has on consumers’ decision-making process is extremely important for online success. CGM comments are online forever, archived until the person who posted them removes them. It is estimated that the number of comments will grow by about 30 percent each year.
CGM leaves a digital trail, which means it is a highly measurable form of media. It can be converted into market research. It allows companies to gauge their brand equity, reputation, and message effectiveness. It is important for companies to take into account the scope and effect of CGM and use it to help them make more-informed decisions.
There are any number of review sites, rating sites, groups, message boards, and forums where people can post what’s on their mind, whether it be to tell of their harrowing experience or the exceptional customer service they received. Any one of these can affect your business. You need to pay close attention to what is being said in both traditional media and consumergenerated media.
Some consumers will go so far as to develop a video to show their displeasure with an organization’s response (or lack of response) to their complaint. Check out United Breaks Guitars on YouTube! This video has been shown on CNN as well as on YouTube. At the time of writing this book, United Breaks Guitars had 7,513,364 views and 40,992 ratings where individuals had taken the time after viewing the video to rate it. The video has a 5-star rating, so everyone loved it and many passed it on or told others about it. Rumor has it that United Airlines is now using the video in its customer service training.
You could lose the chance to demonstrate a commitment to customer service by not addressing complaints. The news cycle has accelerated tremendously, and consumers’ expectations that companies will frequently and directly communicate with them has been raised, thanks to the Internet. If there is no response from your company on a given issue, consumers are likely to spread the news and further speculate about the issue. Along with other traditional forms,
blogging and engaging in social media should now be part of any company’s media outreach.