The day I became a Social Media guru

Well, I did have an interesting day last week.

We all know about the power of social media, but I suspect may of us don’t know how to harness it.  HRH Queen Elizabeth today sent her first tweet (and probably cursed her junior press secretary for the indignity of the whole thing), but at least it made the headlines.

I met a potential client who really does know how to do this properly.  Indeed it is his new business model.  Social media allows him to promote products instantly to a huge and widespread audience around the world and achieve massive coverage for his clients.  I shall say no more to avoid a breach of confidentiality, but it was certainly an illuminating meeting.

As chance would have it is went directly on to another meeting with an existing client.  When I arrived in the ground floor reception the client greeted me with a happy, yet exasperated, wave from the upper balcony of his building.  Wires crowded the floor and I had obviously interrupted an IT installation session.  The client descended to explain:  “Our broadband was cut off almost two whole working days ago”, he said.  “We are running cables to try to get a connection to a 4G broadband router we have bought to keep the internet running for the business, it needs to be almost on the roof to get a proper signal, but we’re nearly there.”

Sitting down for the meeting he went on to explain that his broadband (an SDSL for you techies) had been terminated by his supplier by accident.  The supplier had admitted an error, but had reallocated the wires in the local exchange to another client and could not reinstate the broadband for my client for a potential 30 days!  As my client explained, he relied on internet sales and this was critical for his business.  He had been on the phone to the provider many times and was getting nowhere.  Despite multiple calls and promises of regular updates from the supplier none was forthcoming.

Reflecting back on my last meeting an idea struck me.  Perhaps we could have a pop at social media to get some action.

So we went onto twitter and searched for the supplier.  After a couple of goes we found the right company (this can be tricky as the gold-rush of twitter name grabbing has left many companies without their desired twitter name).  Less than 140 characters later I had succinctly explained the problem to the whole world, addressed publically to the supplier.

Now I had no idea what would happen next, but, I kid you not, less than 6 minutes later (I timed it) I got a reply from the supplier, expressing sympathy and asking for a direct message to allow them to get in touch with the client.  One DM later and the client had a phone call from the communications team at the supplier (this, by the way, was after normal office hours).  Further escalation happened and the client got a call from a director at the supplier with promises of action.

Well I don’t quite know whether to praise or criticise the supplier.  I suppose the speed of action was admirable, but why it took a social media shaming to get a response, when the help-desk team on the phone had been a let-down (in the client’s eyes) I don’t know.  Does it reflect the current business obsession with tweeting rather than doing?  Possibly.  But at least it got some action.

I don’t claim a lasting skill.  If you need to promote something then let me know and I’ll speak to my potential client, but in the meantime I’ll go back to re-tweeting bad jokes and pictures of cute animals.


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