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I "Like You" Like You

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                There are a few products that I really love.  A particular brand of yogurt.  Seedless mini oranges.  Merino wool socks.  A fancy hairspray.  Crazy cool Japanese pajamas.  Like the song says …These are a few of my favorite things.  Years ago when you liked a product, restaurant or service, you told your friends and coworkers about it.  Maybe you even wrote the company to let them know you appreciated their work.  On the flip side, if you had an especially bad experience, you’d caution your friends so that they don’t waste their time and money on something you knew to be unsatisfactory.  In most situations, aside from not purchasing the product again, your recourse ends at telling the people you know what happened.

                  The internet and social media have changed all that, and consumers are now empowered to share their experiences – positive and negative – with the world.  A year or so ago, I purchased a piece of office equipment that just never worked right.  When I called for customer service, I was on hold for hours and then transferred from representative to representative until I was eventually told that there was nothing the company could do.  So, I put my grievance on the firm’s Facebook page.  Within a half hour, a customer service rep replied to my comment and helped get me a replacement machine.  My frustrated phone call didn’t really get much traction, but my Facebook comment got an immediate response.  Why?  Because the Facebook comment was in a public space…

                For companies, the new empowered consumer can be a good or bad thing.  If a firm provides a poor product or lackluster service, they risk being called out publically.  However, if a company provides a superior product like my favorite seedless oranges or wool socks, they benefit from the empowered consumer.  Like many of my generation, I don’t just like my favorite products and companies, I “like” them.  By liking a company’s page on Facebook, I allow that company to deliver its news directly to my eyeballs every day.  I also allow them to learn a bit about me through access to my Facebook profile.  Finally, my “endorsement” of the company is shown to all of my Facebook friends.  The new word of mouth.

                Firms that learn to respect this new consumer power have a lot to gain.  Especially if you consider the fact that you don’t pay a cent to have a Facebok page.  People love branding, whether they want to admit it or not.  If they didn’t, then you wouldn’t see Abercrombie & Fitch stitched across so many hoodies or the Nike swish on so many shoes.  When we find a product we like, we want to display our choice.  In some cases, it can go so far as to become part of our identity.  Branding can be a little more difficult if your company provides a service instead of a product (no physical object to emblazon with your logo), but once again the internet becomes the great equalizer.  When a modern consumer likes a product, chances are they’ll seek it out online.  When they find your Facebook page, they have the option to incorporate you into their personal branding.  It’s like a t-shirt with your company on it, but on their Facebook profile.  A t-shirt you didn’t have to pay to make.  So, make sure your Facebook profile is catchy, clearly displays your company’s services and accomplishments, and advertises any upcoming news and developments.  Monitor the feedback you get and respond to praise and criticism.  Facebook isn’t just a tool for college students to interact with their classmates anymore.  Far from it.  And anyone who doesn’t recognize the potential of this evolving form of social media is in danger of being left behind. 


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