Social media takes toll on organisational reputation: survey

Telco, governement and financial services bear the brunt of customers' ire

The reputations of organisations are taking a beating in social media, with consumers going so far as to boycott companies based on comments made on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, a new survey has found.

The survey of 505 Australians, conducted by StollzNow Research and sponsored by RightNow Technologies, found that 23 per cent of respondees had boycotted an organisation after reading a negative posting by a customer of that organisation on a social media site.

Of all the industries which had been discussed in social media, the telecommunications industry received both the highest number of comments, at 18 per cent, and most negative commentary, at 71 per cent.

While government agencies and financial services organisations received 8 per cent and 7 per cent of posted comments respectively, a sizable 63 per cent and 62 per cent respectively of the comments were negative.

According to the survey, Australians' prolific use of social networks and their willingness to use them to express dissatisfaction, compounded the impact of negative customer experiences on a brand’s reputation.

The survey found that 18 per cent of respondents had posted something about a poor customer experiences on Facebook while 11 per cent had joined a group on Facebook opposed to the company providing a poor experience.

On the positive side, the survey found that 66 per cent of respondents would welcome contact from the organisation following a positive comment posting, while 75 per cent thought that companies should listen to what customers say about their products and services on social networking sites and follow up with the people who have commented.

According to RightNow vice president Asia Pac South, Brett Waters, the survey’s results showed that ignoring the viral nature of the social web could be detrimental to revenue and a brand’s standing.

“Any execs considering what social networking sites mean to their business should take heed of the survey’s overriding message - consumers want you to interact with them through sites like Twitter,” he said. “They must take a considered approach; monitoring conversations so they can learn the where, when and how of positively influencing ‘badvocates’ and fostering further loyalty among advocates.”

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