Is the power of social media returning the power to the people?
I watched a couple of really interesting things unfold today which lead me to believe that this is a day I won't forget for a while -and Twitter (or more widely social media) was instrumental in both.
@Sazzy (Sarah Parmenter) vs. @CurrysOnline
This isn't the first time that a frustrated consumer has openly complained about their service from a large corporation (and it won't be the last) but where in the past most of the blog posts have fallen by the wayside, what's interesting about this particular instance is the additional clout Twitter added.
I'm almost certain that the call-center person thought "whatever" when Sarah said that she was going to show them the power of social media but I don't think they quite expected the response they got.
We wrote a monitor for the various projects we're working on at the moment so I setup a search for the phrase "sazzy currys" which resulted in the following data:
Within the first hour alone, around 120 tweets had been sent. "120? That's a drop in the ocean for Currys" I hear you say -this is true. However to help put it into perspective, when we launched www.borninthebarn.co.uk, 35 tweets generated well over 5,500 hits (and it's still rising) so using the same ratios, that's roughly 19,000 hits and it doesn't factor in those tweeters with far more reach than my followers have (many of Sarah's friends have over 10,000 followers) so I suspect that 19,000 is conservative.
Assuming the same ratios throughout then, so far in the space of 10 hours, Sarah has reached and audience of well over 50,000 people -all who are able to empathize with her and will no doubt further communicate the message.
Ironically (or perhaps more conveniently) @CurrysOnline was only setup within the past two weeks* so this isn't a great introduction to social media -but could certainly be turned around and turned into a good thing if they played their cards right.
* Interesting side note, I did question whether that's an official account because:
- Their first tweet was on a Sunday -not necessarily what you'd expect from a company that I rather suspect only makes their marketing department work Mon-Fri 9-5
- They're not using the same logo as the website (could just be an internal branding issue granted)
- There's no mention of the account on their site from what I could see from a cursory read
The Public vs. News of the World
The second -and I think more concerning/end-of-and-era type thing that happened today was that News of the World (a UK tabloid) announced that it was printing it's last issue this Sunday.
Putting to one side the ethics of why it's getting closed down, I get the impression that social media as a whole has played a large part in the decision. In the past (as with the @Sazzy vs @CurrysOnline above), people have ranted and raved online about things but as there hasn't been a real "collective" so to speak, these haven't had that much of an impact.
Today however I've seen message after message about the News of the World (it's also been fueled by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB takeover bid) but the general temperature of the public can now be actively monitored -and sadly for these large corporates it's all out in the open.
As the saying goes "With great power comes great responsibility" so I'm still undecided as to whether this new found voice/power is a good thing but the reality is, if the larger corporates don't sit up and start listening quickly I rather suspect that more will fall fowl soon.