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Businesses have little control over what people say about them… individuals say what they want when they want to – fair or unfair. An email can be broadcast to millions almost instantly. Now an upset customer is not limited to only a few people they have physical contact with – they can tell thousands.

It is not just email, but blogging and social networking create instant media. Social networking is now the biggest media on the planet. Not only that people actively go to this media.. they have to log on and participate.. unlike TV or radio which is passive. (An interesting aside that Murdoch purchased MySpace to get into this media. However recent figures out of the US show that MySpace only grew 3% last year whilst its rival Facebook grew 153%. Does this say that people want this media not to be controlled by the traditional media companies.)

Let me put this in context for you, according to comScore – Facebook had 132 million unique visitors in June. That’s is what the opening of the Olympics game got.

Most of the conversations happening about an organisation will never be discovered by the organisations concerned.

The only thing brands can do is to make sure they focus on the customer experience – and if customers are having a good time – maybe they will also let everyone in their social network know.

I was in Brisbane recently for a speaking engagement and my host told me as we drove past a restaurant, that she had been there with friends and had a bad experience. “That happens, you’re,” she said – “but being in marketing we thought we would write an email afterwards to let the proprietors know. Then they would have a chance to improve their service.”  The email was many paragraphs long and quite balanced – I have read it. The response from the restaurant – was simply one line (and I have a copy of it)

    • From:


    • To:


    • Subject: RE:


    • Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2008 19:50:38 -0500

Dear Lorraine, you are an idiot we don’t need your feedback.


Lorraine – as you can imagine was amazed. She forwarded the message to the other guests that night… they, in turn, forwarded it on… and so it went. It was picked up by the local media – Lorraine was interviewed on TV.

When we drove passed the restaurant in July it had “for lease” sign. They were out of business.

Customers have power – they have a voice they have a media… it is our job to listen and respond – and to focus on the customer experience. Make it easy for people to contact you, And remember anything that you put in writing could be placed out of context in some ‘personal’ media somewhere.

And make it easy for people to contact you. This is how we do it:  Have your phone number and email contact loud and proud on your home page… make it easy for people to contact you.  Then you have a chance of them contacting you before using their personal media.

Reader Interactions


  1. Exactly – every person working for an organization is the personification of the brand. And anything sent from a work email address is as if it was on company letterhead. This is why employees must be treated as customers.

  2. The sad thing is it was probably just a cranky receptionist responding to the email and not the owners. Goes to show what effect your employees can have on your business.

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