The beauty of social media is that it gives brands immediate access to customer reactions. Today’s consumers aren’t shy about turning to social media to register their opinion about your company’s latest move. And usually, it’s an unhappy opinion. Fewer people log onto social media to share how awesome your new packaging design is or how fabulous that new video is, but if they dislike something, a torrent will be unleashed on your page.
Sometimes, this is a blessing. If there’s a genuine problem with your business, for instance, customer service issues or defective products, it’s a chance for you to become aware of the problem and fix it in a timely manner. But other times this “constructive criticism” can turn into a pointless, abusive whirlwind that distracts you from your real goals.
Let’s take Coca Cola, one of the biggest brands in the world. They recently decided to try something new: white Classic Coke cans for the holidays, with proceeds from sales going to save the polar bears. Cute, right? Apparently not. Customers expressed their outrage at the change of the classic red coke cans. Some complained the cans were too similar to Diet Coke’s silver look, while others just hated to see the red go, even temporarily. Some even claimed Coke tasted different in the red cans. So what did Coke do? They pulled the white cans.
This isn’t a matter of a bad product or bad customer service. This isn’t a “mistake” the company made–it’s a matter of opinion. Yet Coke almost immediately abandoned their long-term plans for the cans and changed them back to their trademark red. It’s almost inexplicable. Were people really going to stop buying Coke because of the color of the can?
The right path, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Listen intently to your customer. Take their thoughts and opinions seriously, and then choose what’s useful and what’s noise. Be true to who you are, but don’t be afraid to make changes when necessary. But don’t fold at the slightest whiff of trouble. Keep your spine in tact.