Monday, November 22, 2010

How Are You Handling The Social Media Explosion?

Here’s a little personal story with a business twist and something to think about at the end….after reading this, I’d enjoying hearing of any similar personal experience any of my readers have had and the impact you think it might have on the company’s business…..

My story…….

We all know it’s the beginning of the Holiday season and sometimes we all think of doing something good for those that are perhaps not as fortunate as the rest of us…

Last week, my local Fraternal club was doing a Turkey raffle for charity. I had approached a local supermarket (I’ll keep the name private as I don’t want to mix business with a negative personal experience; if you’re interested in the name, email me and I’ll tell you off-line) in Wakefield, MA and asked them if I could place an order for 25 18-20lbs turkeys to be used in the raffle. They were on sale for 49₵ per pound and it was cheap enough. I went to the store and the meat manager was off for the day. I spoke with another clerk in the meat department who was very pleasant and helpful. He wrote down my name and cell number and advised me that while he couldn’t guarantee the order until the meat manager returned the next day, he would pass my info along and ask the meat manager to call me the next morning. Before I left the store, I specifically asked if there was a limit on how many sale priced turkey’s I could buy with my (XXXXXX’s) card and was told “no, there is no limit”. This was the clerk’s answer and it was verified by the girl in the courtesy booth. “Great” I thought, everything should be all set.

The next morning no one from XXXXXX’s had called me by mid-morning so I thought I’d call the store myself. I called XXXXXX’s and spoke with the meat manager who informed me he couldn’t honor my order and that the clerk shouldn’t have led me to believe they could fulfill it without speaking to him first. He then said there was a strict limit of “2 per XXXXXX’s card” on the sale priced turkeys. He proceeded to tell me he didn’t have enough on hand to fulfill my order anyways (they didn’t have twenty five 18 to 20lb turkeys the week before Thanksgiving? Interesting excuse, but that’s another issue). Even if they did, he would have to sell them to me at the “wholesale rate of $.99 per lb”. He said both the clerk and courtesy booth were wrong. When I mentioned that neither the store signs nor the advertisement indicated a limit, he said he couldn’t speak for that. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the Turkeys from XXXXXX’s.

We ended up at XXXXXX’s competitor, Market Basket in Wilmington MA who not only happily fulfilled the order, but upon receiving our tax ID, also further reduced the price as a charitable donation from Market Basket. Now that’s GREAT service and a GREAT neighborhood business. We’ll be seeing them next year!

While disappointed in XXXXXX’s, I wasn’t going to say anything about my experience until I looked at my XXXXXX’s receipt from yesterday and it asked me to fill out an on-line questionnaire about my experience yesterday at the store ( I needed some snacks for the Pats-Indy game). While filling out the questionnaire, it asked me about my experience. Well, I told them, not about yesterday's experience but about earlier in the week…..let’s wait and see what happens?

Now how much would a negative blog about a product impact the company’s business? Hard to say but one thing is for certain: the 350+ members of my Fraternal Club plus their families know about the incident and will think twice about shopping at XXXXXX’s in the future. On the other hand, Market Basket looks like a champ and I’ll be following my wife’s advice and start shopping there.

How does a company follow and react to a personal blog like this? The SS1-Engage platform from Social Strategy 1 constantly crawls the internet looking for mentions like this. Should XXXXXX’s or Market Basket have the service, this blog post would show up on their dashboard with a positive mention for Market Basket and a negative mention for XXXXXX’s. Market Basket could “Re-Tweet” it for good publicity, while XXXXXX’s would want it to go away.

Think how good Market Basket looks in this situation? Makes people want to shop there…..who doesn’t want to shop with good people? Think how much one little instance like this will hurt XXXXXX’s future business? (Not much as I didn’t use their real name because I’m ethical and wanted to use it as an example for my product. If I wasn’t, think of the bad publicity this would cause?) Now, maybe XXXXXX’s doesn’t have a social media program in place and will never know this type of negative issue is being blog’d about, or they may choose to ignore it, or they could come back in a positive manner and say something like “Dave, sorry you had a bad experience. There was some terrible miscommunication in play and XXXXXX’s certainly wishes to maintain a good standing in the local community and recognizes the needs of local non-profit organizations. Please accept this coupon for your next future purchase at XXXXXX”s. We strive to provide the best shopping experience for our Customers and hope you will put it to good use by considering a second chance for XXXXXX’s to earn your organization’s business on its next endeavor”.

The last response is an example of actions which may be recommended by the personal analyst from Social Strategy 1 to minimize any damage from a personal blog or Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp, etc. posting. In excess of 80 million users access these sites everyday and follow this kind of publicity. If you or any of your friends (don’t forget the $500 referral from my previous posting) are interested in seeing how the SS-1 Engage platform from Social Strategy 1 can help your business, please contact me at or 781-937-0420


  1. Great post Dave!

    I can really see where a LOT of businesses would need to use Social Strategy 1.

  2. Great post, Dave. That's a great example of why businesses need to effectively manage customer service online and offline. There is one legendary case study on Southwest Airlines and a passenger using Twitter:

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