Social Proof, The Good And The Bad

Social Proof, The Good And The Bad

Social Proof Is Using Other People To Help You Make A Decision

Social proof is becoming increasingly more important today, and has an impact on your business. With more people having conversations on the internet, using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, social proof should play an important part in your marketing strategy. It is what people are saying about your brand.

Does your product work? Is your customer service doing its job? Do consumers like your products? These are the conversations going on today on the internet. If you care about your brand at all, or the way your business is performing, you should practice public relations online and offline.

The Bad About Social Proof

Social proof is following the herd and has a bandwagon effect. It gets worse when people believe what they read without giving some thought about the source. Very often, people end up believing in rumors and unwittingly help spread those rumors by sharing it with their friends and family. When something, even though it may be totally baseless, gets repeated often enough becomes accepted as the truth.

So how do you counter baseless accusations? This actually happened to one of my clients on their Facebook page. This client operated a chain of kindergartens across the city. The dissatisfied parent made a post on my client’s Facebook page accusing the school of not accepting her son back into the kindergarten after an absence of more than 4 weeks. The parent went on to say that her child got food poisoning in school which caused the long absence, and when she brought her child to class, she was told to find another kindergarten.

My client called me on the same day and suggested removing the post. Bad idea, I told her as that would not address the issue of the dissatisfied parent. So I asked her if she wanted me to reply to the post, which I did.

The Facts and Nothing But The Facts
Without accusing anybody and in calm manner of writing, I laid out what had occurred.

  • The parent had previously informed the kindergarten that her entire family suffered food poisoning
  • The kindergarten was informed that the child will no longer attend class as they had made other arrangments
  • After weeks of absence, the kindergarten had reached its full capacity
  • When the kindergarten informed the parent, the parent was visibly dissatisfied with the explanation
  • In this case, nothing could be done to accept the child as the kindergarten had to follow the Ministry of Education’s guidelines
  • In the event the parent was unhappy with the way she was informed of the situation, we offered the kindergarten’s apology
  • Then we invited the parent to contact the school management if she was still dissatisfied with what had occurred

Rather than just forgetting about the case, we felt that it was more important to resolve it. We wanted to demonstrate that my client ran her business in a responsible and professional manner.

The Good About Social Proof

What followed demonstrates the positive side of social media. Friends of the kindergarten, which was made up of the parents of their pupils, came out in support of the kindergarten. The open manner in which the kindergarten discussed the issue gained the trust of other parents. While they felt that this issue should have been discussed with between the school and the parent, they felt that since it was brought to light, the manner which we discussed the issue was important.

How To Resolve Customer Complaints In Social Media

  1. Get all the facts and interview the people involved
  2. Take the high road and face up to the issue
  3. Discuss the issue in a calm manner, regardless online or offline
  4. Present your side of the story and stick to your guns
  5. Practice professional conduct at all time

Perhaps not everyone will accept your side of the story, but I believe in most cases, issues can be resolved amicably. The business must first be seen to care and be active in resolving the conflict, and to do so in a professional manner. It is not a matter of who is in the right or who is not, it is in how it is discussed and resolved. Showing that you care goes a long way to customer satisfaction.