PR Campaigns – The blog

September 26, 2008

Social Networks and Word of Mouth

Filed under: Uncategorized — lindsaylynch @ 11:35 am
Tags: , ,

TALLfore

It is crazy how fast news can travel.  Trenton (the “T” of TALLfore) sent me an article about the power of Twitter.  This article was linked to WordPress but originated from the CEO’s journal entry on Thomas Nelson Publishers direct site.

The core idea that is provided in the posts is a story of UHaul not treating a customer appropriately.  The customer who was treated badly, later posted on Twitter how terrible their experience with UHaul was. In the Twitter post they also went on to say how great Penske was when they went there instead.  UHaul’s sales made a dramatic drop that day all because of this one post.  

The guy who posted on Twitter about UHaul had over 1,500 followers.  Those followers more than likely told someone and the trend continued all the way until right now.  Now I am writing about it on wordpress and anyone with internet access can get to this post to find out that UHaul treated a customer terrible and that customer would never refer their services again.  I am shocked that a networking site (Twitter) can absolutely help a business or even destroy one!  

A few semesters ago I was in a small business marketing class and we were talking about word of mouth and how vital it is to a company, no matter if its large or small.  For some reason people like to focus on the bad things that happen to them, so if someone runs into a problem with a specific business it is likely that they will tell 30 people about their experience.  If someone has a good experience they will tell two people, if any.  

So this goes to show that social networks are now increasing all of the possibilities of word of mouth.  In the end probably because of the growth of the internet UHaul, I’m sure, had a lot of crisis management to deal with!

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8 Comments »

  1. A few notes:

    – avoid using an exclamation point in the title;
    – you need to specifically link the entire chain followed to reach the main article you reference (which should have a title, not just “the article). Don’t just say “a corporation’s web site”: name the corporation and link to it. Also, make sure the entire word is linked properly;
    – break your post up into paragraphs for easier reading;
    – make sure to include the category tag for your team, don’t just write the team name in the post.

    This is a great topic for a post, but you need to clean it up a little.

    Comment by drgilpin — September 26, 2008 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  2. More than ever, consumers have the power to affect a brand. The Internet has completely changed the rules of communication and there are a lot more players on the board. Protecting your reputation is vital, especially online where information spreads fast. Many people post customer feedback online and in turn, a great deal of people seek these reviews. Web sites such as Yelp, which mixes social networking with business ratings and reviews, are gaining popularity. I often read restaurant and company reviews before giving them my business. It’s very important to know how to protect your brand online. As PR practitioners it’s something we need to be mindful of as we go out into the real world and take on the responsibility of defending our client’s brands in the digital arena.

    Comment by marialinda17 — September 29, 2008 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  3. It is no surprise that people like to dwell on negativity. I am not a user of sites like Twitter, and I am new to blogging, but I am not naive to the fact that social networking sites can have such a big impact. Also, while a negative review can quickly be relayed to thousands of people, I have a hard time understanding how the effects are measured. The article says that U-Haul lost “thousands” in revenue that particular day, but was that the effect of the guy who had the bad experience, or was it proven that others, due to the bad review, changed their mind that day and went to Penske?

    Comment by davemerenda — September 29, 2008 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  4. A story like this does not surprise me at all! I work at a retail store in Tempe, and at meetings we are told similar horror stories that all have a common solution–the customer should always be right! This might seem like a hard concept to grasp, but if this theory is practiced in business, there will be fewer issues like the one that occured at U-Haul. People love to dwell on the negative. A customer might have had a wonderful experience, but only told a few people about it. On the other had if that same customer had a bad experience, they will make sure to tell everyone they know. It is important to treat every customer like they could be the determining factor that can make or break the company. It is amazing that social networks have now become a way to virally spread negativity. I understand that the U-Haul customer was bitter about how he was treated, but I am not sure if I agree with his Twitter behavior. I think people should be able to judge a company based on their personal experiences, not those of people badly scorned.

    Comment by brittz87 — September 29, 2008 @ 11:53 pm | Reply

  5. If I am interested in using a company’s sevices for the first time and am skeptical of their reputation, I will Google them and delve into bitter buyer’s blogs. The internet has completely changed the face of communication and has cut the power of their own image from the company and handed it to the consumers.The internet is such a powerful source of instant information and the speed given to thoughts is undefinable. As a preventative measure companies need to keep “their ship tight” especially in regards to customer relations. This is a way to manage their internet repuation.

    Comment by kristarogers — September 30, 2008 @ 9:33 am | Reply

  6. This is very interesting. The Twitter website has definitely come to the forefront in my life. Now that I know about it, I see it everywhere and it does not even surprise me that this has become a major player in customer service for compaines. The power of the “written” word has taken on a new life of its own. Now I have the mac widget that allows me to update my Twitter directly from my dashboard and it makes it so easy for me to “publish” my thoughts and views to the world at large. That is kind of a scary thought, but at the same time–why does my opinion matter? But I guess that is where the credibility factor comes in. Nuts!

    Comment by wackyzachy47 — September 30, 2008 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  7. I think that because of social networking today and the velocity of communication, more than ever PR professionals need to realize the value in customer service. I think that this could be the most crucial part of PR. It can involve several aspects of PR, employee communications, crisis communications and stakeholder communication. If your customer is always happy, then it will make your job a lot easier!

    Comment by cclark2 — September 30, 2008 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

  8. I am a firm believer in the idea that word-of-mouth can certainly help or hinder a business and I definitely take into consideration the things people say about their experiences with different business. I have yet to create a Twitter account, so I don’t quite know how it operates, but if it is anything like Facebook status changes, I imagine many people can see and proceed to ask questions relating to the post. The constant changes in technology are both positive and negative, as Uhaul learned. I guess that’s the fate of businesses, it’s in the hands of their consumers and their social networking sites!!

    Comment by bkranz — October 2, 2008 @ 12:13 pm | Reply


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