“If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” – Don Draper, Mad Men
There are two worlds we live in. These worlds have become almost entirely separate from each other, while each of them are very clearly grounded in each other – to some degree. On the one you have the very physical world, a world with air and sky and people – flesh and blood. This world has brick and mortar buildings, cold hard cash, smiles and handshakes, and face to face meetings over coffee.
The second world is also a very real world, but more metaphysical than the other. In the first world who you are and what you do defines virtually your entire reality. In the second world, your perception and other’s perception of you can be shaped by a whole different set of rules.
In the first world when a customer does not like your service, they yell at you, or politely ask you to change it, maybe ask you to give them a coupon, ease their mind. In the first world when a customer likes you work, loves your product, lives by your brand, all they come in contact with hear of it.
In the second world, when a customer does not like your service, they write a review on one website, which is seen by literally hundreds of people. That one review could be picked up by other websites, until your company is literally known by one review. News channels could run with it, if it’s juicy enough. It could become a meme ridiculing you on Reddit & 4Chan, slowly making it’s way to Facebook & Twitter. People can debate on the merrits of your lack of service or customer care on public websites & forums for thousands more to see.
In the second world when someone loves your product or service, they can rave about it on social media, blogs, websites. Others who have never met this person, nor have any idea who they are, try your business for themselves. You can gain hundreds, thousands, your whole town as potential customers over one simple rave review. You can also lose your whole market over one bad review.
As an example, consider the first world – the physical world – to be a stone. A small stone, smooth, much like the one that David would have thrown at Goliath. Now in this same example, imagine the second world is a very still pond. One simple act in the physical world, usually unless massive circumstances mount, has relatively little consequence. One simple act in the digital world can ripple continuously until the whole world has seen it’s wake.
I have been baffled, in my local town, but even nationally and internationally, knowing how much power this can yield, and wields of their liveliness; I have been baffled how little time or attention so many businesses pay to the online world. In 2011 The Pew Research Center released a poll on where people went for information. Of the Americans under 40, those polled stated that their top source of information on local businesses was the internet.
There is a conversation going online. They are talking about your business. Do you know what they are saying? Can you afford to not have a voice in the conversation?