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Complaining On Social Media Can Get You Places, But At What Price?

There has been a lot of debate about if you should use social media as a “weapon” against companies you have complaints with.  Some people find it unethical and feel you shouldn’t turn to Twitter or its ilk to lodge complaints about companies, but it seems some of those companies not only are listening to those sources, but being proactive with them.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal (registration required), monitoring comments, complaints and suggestions made by customers on sites such as Twitter is becoming a part of some hotel employee’s daily duties.  Examples are given of people getting moved to better rooms after making a complaint about their current one, getting more towels after making a comment and so on.  There is even one example where a blogger for a BlackBerry site was at a conference made a random comment about how he was craving a cold beer on Twitter, and the hotel messaged him back to come to the front desk and they gave him ten beers in a bucket of ice to share with friends on the patio.

twitter bird swarmIs there a point where social media is becoming too powerful?  It’s one thing to say “I wish I had more towels …” after you’ve gotten no help from a hotel, but will establishments now give negative reviews for not lavishing attention on every guest such as the gentleman who got the beers?  I totally understand that in his case he was not expecting those beers, and that was awfully nice of the hotel, but once someone hears of this, and posts a similar Tweet and doesn’t get the beers, will that negatively impact the hotel?  What if that particular location isn’t forward thinking enough to monitor social networking traffic?

The article also makes mention that there seems to be some measurement going on based on how many followers the person has on the popular micro-blogging site, so if someone with just 20 followers complains about something and gets no satisfaction, will they fly into a rage over it?

There is no doubt that social networking is all the buzz right now, but its actual worth and impact has yet to be proven.  There is also the issue of just how many venues people have to now lodge complaints.  What if a hotel monitors Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, but isn’t monitoring Yelp where you choose to make a comment.  Will that leave a bad taste on that customers mouth?  What if they have no clue about your personal blog where you have traffic of ten unique visitors a day?

While social media has given us a unique avenue to voice our opinions unlike anything that has ever existed before, it could also be a slippery slope for businesses if they do not maneuver it correctly, and they could end up alienating far more people than they satisfy.  And this doesn’t even take into account the people who will abuse such a system by posting nit picky complaints in the hopes of getting freebies.

So, next time you are staying at the Sleep Rite Motor Lodge, and your Magic Fingers massager just ate your quarter, I’d still call the front desk before I ranted about it on Twitter.

What say you?  Have you ever complained about a company on a social media site in hopes of getting satisfaction?  Did you?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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