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In the business world today, there is a tremendous push for social media strategies to encourage social media relations between businesses and their customer base. All over, businesses are trying to incorporate social media into everything from advertising and supporting toasters to online services. But at what cost? People will share negative information somewhere between 8 to 12 times more often than they’ll share positive information. I don’t know if this is human nature or if this is the concept of the squeaky wheel made public, but when it comes to social media relations or strategies, it can be devastating to a company. When we overlay this truth — that people are more likely to complain than praise a company — then we can see that by adopting social media strategies, companies are creating a public forum for people to voice their unhappiness. Take Comcast for example. They’ve adopted technology to build social media relations between their company and their customers by using social media tools like Twitter. By using Twitter, Comcast is able to respond to customers more quickly and, often, more intelligently. But by using social media this way, they are leaving a virtual paper trail of any negative remarks directed at them by customers. Google then picks these up and indexes them, leaving a permanent, online record of criticism and negativity that outweighs any positive responses customers might express about Comcast’s services. I think the difference between a customer’s expectations and the service received is what can cause this issue. The more sales and marketing promises Comcast makes, the more likely a customer expects those promises to be fulfilled. If they aren’t, then you open yourself up to public criticism when, previously, complaints could be handled privately by phone. You may have the best of intentions when adopting social media (after all, it should promote better customer service, right?), but is it worth it for companies to embrace social media relations when it’s possible that such strategies can backfire stupendously? What do you think of using social media strategies to create social media relations with your own customers? Is this a negative or a positive paradigm shift?    

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