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| Editor's Blog Section | Social media - ignore it at your peril
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12 November 2012

Social media – ignore it at your peril

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From Opinion column issue 64 – Autumn 2012

There’s a new democracy at large, and one could be forgiven for sometimes thinking it’s the democracy of the loudest voice – or at least of the most vociferous grumbler.

What else are we to make of the many threads of complaint about home deliveries that litter the internet and the Twittersphere? Spend an hour reading some of these and you could easily start to believe UK carriers were innately incapable of completing a single delivery effectively.

But you’d be wrong. Admittedly, more than ten per cent of home deliveries fail at the first attempt, according to a new IMRG; but that means about 90 per cent are succeeding. How many of these do we hear about on the internet?

Some carriers are doing better than that. Yodel, one of the most harried victims of complaint, claims a success rate of better than 98 per cent. Unfortunately, when you’re as big as Yodel or Royal Mail even a 1 per cent failure rate translates into big numbers. The trick is to keep these things in perspective.

Should we actually worry about what is happening in the world of social media? Contact centre specialist Genesys points out that according to consultancy Ecwid, only 4 per cent of UK consumers have so far bought goods through Facebook. However, it predicts that the proportion could soar if the so-called "f-commerce" web experience improves.

If it does, the market could face another problem. Gartner reckons that by 2014, up to 15 per cent of social media reviews could be fake – generated for the most part by otherwise respectable retailers.

Ironically, until lately this traffic has been one-way. Retailers might want to push their products through Facebook, but historically it seems they haven’t paid much attention to complaints made about them on social media web sites and Twitter.

The good news is that this is changing. Lately some carriers are waking up to the need to deal with Twitter and Facebook complaints early, taking the heat out of them. It may be an added cost, but it looks increasingly like money well spent.

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