Social media: Bad reviews are better than no reviews at all

Developing a social media community can definitely be an intimidating leap of faith.  Business owners, executives… they can easily be scared away when they weigh the “pros” against the “cons.”  Trust me when I say I’ve fought this fight.

When I was first setting up social media accounts for the insurance company, the same question was posed to me in different ways multiple times:  What if people comment or post negative things about our agency?

As Gary Vaynerchuk so boldly expresses in The Thank-You Economy (paraphrasing here),

Bad reviews are better than no reviews.

If people have negative things to say about your brand, they are going to say them – regardless of whether or not you provide a platform for them to do so.  It would be to your benefit that unsatisfied customers are ranting in a place that you can see it & address it.

I believe that if you are doing business ethically and transparently, you might lose business from a customer that you downright can’t make happy.  But you won’t walk away the bad guy.
Providing a place for people to give honest reviews allows you to hear what your customers like, want, & need.  And here’s the kicker: you can talk back.

“Social Media” isn’t a scary marketing tactic you, as a CEO or business owner, know nothing about.  (Hint: you’ve been doing it for years.)  It’s just communication… with technological advances that enable you to do it in a different (and much broader) way than you’ve ever done before.

Don’t be scared. Jump in!  Remember: your customers are already talking about you.

The Experience

When I was seventeen, I believed in the world ahead of me.  In possibilities, and opportunities.  In grand romance, and wild freedom.

Three and a half years later, I’ve moved back home.  Things didn’t all pan out the way I planned.  The collegiate experience will forever be the life I only got a taste of.  I went into that life a girl, and in the summer, all those boxes I never unpacked when I came back will be transferred to the house I share with my husband now that I’m a woman.  All of the experience from the past year: my 9-5, The Budget, this sparkly ring on my left hand, the “real world” — none of it can be undone.  It can’t be un-experienced.  Possibilities were narrowed.  Opportunities came and went.  Some were taken; others were not.  And more still will be decided.

I know what people think when they see me as a representation for my company.  I know what marketing blogs and infographics say about companies who hire 20-somethings to fill the rapidly-spreading need to manage social media.  They say we can’t possibly know where to start on a social media marketing initiative; we don’t have the experience.  They say we’re fickle and restless.  But to be fair, those articles and statistics are referring to recent graduates.

I refer to myself as a young professional.  According to the Chamber of Commerce we belong to, their Young Professionals organization is intended for professionals in the area ranging in age from 21-40.  But I guess you can just rule me out of that one.  I don’t qualify.

Yes, I am 20 years old.  I work at an insurance agency managing social media, small marketing projects, web development, answering phones, and the coffee.  I am getting married in 6 months.  I dropped out of college over a year ago because I couldn’t afford it, and I didn’t qualify for any more aid.  I am paying back the loans, as I simultaneously even out the balance I left on my school account.  My parents have agreed to cohabiting while my fiance and I pay for our modest wedding and plan for our first year of marriage.

I’ve had people look at me strangely when I tell them I work at an insurance agency.  I’ve had them make the “were you even born when…” jokes.  People still call me “sweetie” or “hon” when I answer the phone.  I actually had a man at a chamber event tell me getting married was a mistake.  Because I lacked experience.

What exactly does it look like I’m doing, sir?