What You Say About Your Company Doesn’t Matter

[dropcap size=small]Y[/dropcap]ou’re paying a lot of money to advertise your brand. But if you expect that advertising to determine how people feel about your company, you are going to be disappointed.

It’s 2014, going on 2015, and companies have never had less sway over what people say about them.

Thanks to the internet, no matter how many press releases you send out or how much advertising you buy, most consumers are going to learn about your brand’s inner-workings from other consumers. That’s a double-edged sword— if people love your brand, word can spread like wildfire across the internet, giving you unexpected and perhaps unprecedented growth. Industry disruptor 13 Fishing has accomplished exactly that over the past several months. On the flip-side, if your service is not up to par, you’re going to feel the repercussions of that more quickly than ever before.

That means you need to be on top of your customer service game in both the physical world and online; by online, we mean social media.

That means you, tackle shop; it means you, lure manufacturer.

A Conversocial survey from 2011 indicated that three years ago, 50% of consumers were using social media to communicate with brands. You can bet that figure is even higher in 2014, considering the recent push of web traffic to mobile platforms where social media is often more convenient to utilize than a website-based contact form or the phone.

Allow me to present a recent customer service interaction that FTR had with our hosting company, HostGator:

As happens on the occasional random Tuesday, things in the digital world go completely awry. We urgently needed support from HostGator, a hosting company that provides a solid suite of services with a sometimes dubious customer service reputation. Inside the FTR officers, our IT technicians began to groan. “It usually takes a few hours to get help from them,” they said. And they were right.

Because HostGator has millions of accounts and deals with thousands of support tickets everyday, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to hear back from them. But that’s when we flipped the script using Twitter. A simple Direct Message to @HGSupport landed us a quick analysis from their team on our support ticket.

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All of a sudden, our IT department was feeling a lot better about HostGator’s customer support service. Because the company was relevant on social media and provided their customers with an easy outlet to reach them, they were able to deliver a positive message to our team about their brand. In this case, that message was, “Hey, we hear you.”

Several days later, we came back to HostGator’s Twitter page for support on another issue. This time, they gave us a quick analysis and determined that the issue would require a few more hours of work for their team. The quick reply and honesty were appreciated, which brings us to the new rules of brand success.

In the words of Fast Company, the new conditions of brand success are simple and two-fold:

“1. Deliver a kick-ass product. 2. Be honest.”

Most companies begin with those goals, even if they are stated a little less bluntly. But sometimes, those initial goals are led astray by internal dialogue, the need to meet a bottom line and hours of misguided meetings. Sometimes, those goals disappear from a company’s radar without them even realizing it. So how do you know if it’s time for your company to find them again?

Just ask Google.

In a dark corner of their vast closet, Google hides an alert service you can use to track web mentions of your brand. It’s the same closet they keep their four-legged running robots in, but don’t worry, Google alerts won’t be kicking down your front door anytime soon.

They will, however, give you an idea of what consumers are really saying about your brand. And that’s a start towards understanding where you need to invest in your own customer support.

After all, it doesn’t matter what you say about your brand—it’s what other people say, and the best way to sway their voice is to talk to them yourself.