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Social indifference

I recall a statistic: 68 percent of customers quit doing business with a company or entity because of perceived indifference toward them as customers.

When I share this statistic with groups, most participants are shocked: “How is it that so many people claim to be treated indifferently? That’s appalling!”

And when I ask audience members to describe what it feels like to be treated indifferently, I hear responses such as:

  • I feel like I don’t matter.
  • I feel as though I’m unimportant.
  • I feel ignored.
  • I feel taken for granted.
  • I feel devalued.

Exactly.

And the same sad phenomenon is happening in the social sphere. Businesses are establishing a social presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels and then ignoring attempts by their “fans” to engage.

Not long ago, I wrote a post titled, Engage or go away. The gist of the post was my surprise and disappointment at the lack of engagement from businesses in the social sphere.

Let’s be clear. By “engage,” I mean to take part in conversations, to be responsive to others, and to be interested in others.

Some people mistake activity for engagement. Activity (e.g, frequency of Twitter updates) has nothing to do with engagement. If you’re actively promoting yourself and your links via Twitterfeed, you’re not engaged, you’re probably a spammer.

If, however, you’re contributing to conversations as your schedule allows and making a sincere effort to reply to Twitter @s, DMs, emails, and blog comments from your social media fan base, then you’re likely engaged.

While it’s doubtful that you’ll be able to reply to every social media or email contact in a meaningful way, it’s a good idea to minimize the frequency of communication lapses with your fan base.

Here’s why: Lapses erode your brand.

Three nights ago, on November 8th, I tweeted this message to @comcastcares and have yet to receive a reply. That’s a shame. Seriously, to be treated indifferently by a commercial Twitter account with “cares” in its name is quite ironic and, sadly, all too common.

Here’s more irony: Bill Gerth, the Comcast employee behind @comcastcares, found the time to post a blog titled Connecting with Our Customers on November 10th but didn’t find time to connect with a real, live customer who reached out to his Twitter account two days earlier.

Now, I haven’t met Bill. He’s probably a great guy. But Bill’s travel, work, family, and social schedule (or whatever may have contributed to his inability to follow up with me—a social media “fan” and Comcast subscriber—for three days and counting…) have no bearing on my perception that I was ignored and that my feedback was not valued by Comcast.

I’ve been contemplating a switch from Comcast to DirectTV (mostly for the unique NFL access) for a while now and lapses like this just make it easier to justify the decision to change cable providers.

If you’re going to make the decision to hang out a shingle in the social sphere, remember to be social. And a large part of being social is to avoid the perception that you’re treating others indifferently—as if they’re unimportant and don’t matter.

While fans and followers likely make allowances for those brands—people or companies—with whom they’ve established a genuine connection in the past, if lapses persist, the brand and its fan base will erode.

Do you agree? I welcome all comments, bouquets, and brickbats. Or, you can be like Comcast and just ignore me.

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