As many of you know, I run my own social media business in addition to blogging. This gives me the advantageous perspective of seeing the brand/blogger relationship from both sides. I have learned a lot from my experiences but daily, I am still surprised at some of the things I see out there.
Warning: this isn’t a popular sentiment.
Brands owe bloggers nothing. If they choose to work with you, it is a mutually beneficial partnership, not you doing them some favor.
There, I said it out loud.
Here’s another one: if you want to work with a brand, be respectful….even if you’re a paying customer and not in a partnership.
You’d think these two things are pretty easy, pretty obvious, right? Daily though, I see them broken ALL.THE.TIME.
Brands really do want to work with bloggers, but they get a lot of blogger interest on a regular basis. A LOT.
This means a few things:
Brands can’t work with every single blogger who pitches them.
Brands can be very picky and choosy when they decide who to work with.
Brands can easily choose NOT to work with someone who is nasty, whether it’s via a personal tweet as as consumer OR as a blogger.
Brands will have limits and restrictions on what they can offer and when. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the blogger necessarily.
Brands won’t necessarily be able to get back to you same day, or even same week.
Brands remember names.
Brands are made of employees or owners or entrepreneurs that may also be bloggers. The two roles are not mutually exclusive.
Brands can be creating a list of people they want to work with in the future. A no now may be a yes in 60 or 90 days. Maybe even 30.
When you talk negatively about a brand on social, you’re doing a few things:
Potentially removing your name from a list, because who wants to work with someone who is unprofessional? This is all business, baby.
You’re creating work for the very same people you may have just asked for something from. There is only so much time in day. You may have delayed not only your response, but resolutions and/or answers for others, who in turn may then have a valid complaint.
So how DO you handle a customer service issue if you are a blogger and want to work with the brand?
Don’t do social media blasts…but I’d tell this to almost everyone experiencing an issue with a brand. Yes, the company may end up forced to give you help or a discount or whatever, but those are people you’re speaking to. People doing their jobs. People with limitations. People with feelings. Humans. Yes, it’s their job, but they did not cause your issue. Kindness works much better every single time. I repeat: kindness works EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. A brand will remember who spoke to the team respectfully in a much brighter light than the person spinning yarns. Get on the phone. If you have an email address, use it. Speak to someone AT the business, not someone behind a computer 1700 miles away. Save your social media blasts for a company truly deserving and that’s not because they haven’t resolved it for you in the first 15 minutes since your transaction.
If you must go on social, it’s bad news to ask your friends to RT it 99% of the time. It’s like when a police officer has an accident to get to, but can’t because everyone’s stopped in traffic blocking him. You’ve also just ensured someone who didn’t cause your problem to have a crappy day and possibly work OT because you had to let the company know that they sent the wrong size socks. Again, it’s their job, but those RTs? Roadblocks between the brand and you. (And the people clearing the roadblocks have to get paid, so guess where that money could come from next time? Yeah, those higher rates everyone would complain about.)
Be honest if you go on social. Share the real story, the whole story, and not just the part that makes you look good or fits your narrative.
Answer the brand when they contact you. You don’t have some upper hand. They will likely continue to be in business tomorrow even if you never return, and while businesses do want you to return, don’t over-inflate your own importance.
When the brand resolves it for you, or at least sincerely tries, post another tweet. Share the ending of the story. Don’t leave your followers hanging. Do right by the business and share.
In the end, you may be an example to someone else who is having a hard time resolving something. The brand may see you and how you helped. Remember, brands have memories.
Social media blasts hurt working relationships if you’re not careful, and life is too short for that kind of stress.