Sometimes as public relations professionals and marketers, we forget the very real human relations aspect that is the real magic of social media tools. The phrase, “the conversation” has become overused, but the truth is that people are having little conversations every day.
I am a big proponent of measuring results and looking for a great business case for incorporating social media into a campaign. But this last week reminded me at a personal level that social media facilitates building a network.
A network that might even come to your rescue when you are in need.
Social Media as Connector
I learned this first-hand just last week.
I have struggled with my my less than two-year-old HP Pavilion laptop. I lost the screen during my maternity leave and then last week, the hard drive began to fail.
When my machine started throwing errors, my good friends on Twitter gave sound advice:
My computer was backed up, but the experience left my trust in Hewlett Packard badly tattered.
Messages like these from my peers are the reason that I use Twitter, despite its downtime and other glitches. If these people moved on, so would I. So in a real way, Twitter connects me with my network and that is its only value.
My friend Rob La Gesse, whom I would have never known except through blogging, is helping me to get the HP back up-and-running and I will use it for a backup computer.
Social Media and Customer Service
But I needed a new computer…and fast.
I called RichardatDell for a recommendation. He coincidentally wrote a post this week about how social media humanizes companies. Since my HP screen had crashed earlier this year, I knew that I would consider buying a Dell the next time around. Mostly because they have given me faith that even if my product is a lemon, my concern will not fall on deaf or non-existent ears.
Since I needed a computer immediately, Richard suggested I consider getting one from Best Buy. The retailer is now carrying Dell computers. If I ordered one from the Web it would take a week, and I didn't have a week.
Richard took it a step further and WENT to his local Best Buy to see what they stocked. He called me from the sales floor. Simply stated, he went above and beyond the call of duty. It is part and parcel of what I have advocated for in using public relations tools like social media to enhance customer service.
He gave me some options and helped me decide to buy in the store.
I now have a Dell Inspiron 1420 sitting on my desk. The only regret I have is that I really wanted a red one (they only had black and blue in stock). Also, it is throwing some error about the power cord, which I am sure can be worked out.
I really loved what Michael Dell, the CEO of Dell Computer, had to say on Global Neighborhoods last week when Shel Israel asked him how blogging changed Dell's corporate reputation:
You'd have to ask our customers. We don't own our reputation we just own our actions. That's something our customers give to us in return for us exceeding their expectations.
Consider my expectations exceeded and yet another lesson learned.
Lesson: People care deeply when someone helps them out of a hard spot or makes their life easier. If your gizmo or social media service can do that, then you will earn loyalty and gratitude.
Photos by Leonard A at Rockers Generation and from Dell Marketing site