Only 17% of businesses contribute to and monitor social media regularly

According to a recent Leger Marketing survey, 17% of large and mid-sized companies consistently post on social-media sites or monitor them. That means that by default, 83% are not using or monitoring social media. That number should scare you, especially if your business falls into the latter group. Also consider that 51% of social media users post negative feedback.


What makes social media feedback so toxic to ignore, is the fact that it sits in a public space for others to see, potentially spurring on additional negative feedback. The traditional complaint process saw the issue sit in a customer service representative’s in-box or voicemail, where frankly it could be easily ignored, or at the very least dealt with in a non-urgent manner. Today with the power of social media on their side, consumers are empowered to get timely attention and resolution. Companies are especially apt to respond quickly if that person has a significant digital footprint and influence on social media with lots of friends on Facebook or a significant Twitter following.

As an experiment I decide to use, a free social media monitoring site to search comments being made about prominent companies. Knowing airlines are an easy target for service screw-ups, I started with Air Canada. Within minutes I had found a fellow who had posted to his Facebook page less than kind words about his inability to get a drink while waiting in the Platinum lounge due to a delayed flight. A quick check revealed he had over 1,800 friends on Facebook whom he had shared his comment with. Within 20 minutes of the comment being made, he had over 12 responses, all supporting his negative views.  Another quick check revealed this fellow had an even more significant following on Twitter. In the end I suspect he went thirsty in the lounge of social media monitoring, since his occupation was listed as tattoo artist from California. But what if he had been a Fortune 500 CEO or major business user? Frankly, tattoo artist or not, the fact that he was entitled to the Platinum lounge and he had a significant following, should have meant someone tagged the comment and followed up with him.

However, we do know that major companies such as Air Canada are now employing social media representatives, and they do follow and deal with online comments. Just ask Virginai Sokoloff, a disgruntled customer who had her flight accidently cancelled by an Air Canada rep, and had to actually buy a new ticket for over $700 to get home. Her complaints at the service counter went unresolved, as did her phone calls several days later. But her Facebook wall posting received an immediate response and she was offered a refund and discount on future flights. The fact she had a significant following on Facebook likely played in that decision.

Although it’s easy to take the nick out of airlines, all businesses who serve customers should be aware of the potential damage to their brand that can result from a social media conversation to which they are not privy or choose to not participate.

Curious about how you business might stack up? Wonder about your competitors? Visit and plug in a few key words. It will search the universe of social media and deliver you links to comments, as well as give you a measure of whether those comments are positive, negative or neutral. And it’s absolutely free!





Mary Charleson


  1. Do you think consumers will start to abuse the social media complaint process as a way to get stuff for free? Unless someone is moderating and confirming all the complaints, it might be really hard to validate them and respond in a timely manner. Seems like an opportunity for someone to take advantage of it. Thoughts?

    • You make a good point. Traditionally complaints were registered with one person. They might sit in an in-bin or on voice mail. They could be investigated, validated and resolved in a timely but not urgent matter because the only people who knew about them were the complainer and the company representative. Now those complaints sit in public, so it becomes necessary to deal with them quickly to limit further damage as others see them or they spin to a growing audience on social media. It is not always easy to validate quickly all the details, so you are right, there will be a trade off. I suspect once basic details are confirmed (ie: yes that person actually took that flight, or yes there was an issue with a passenger in row 5) for example, then an employee who is empowered to make decisions should be allowed to make them. Good companies would set the parameters – at a certain level someone is authorized to make a decision and take care of it up until a certain budget amount, beyond that it might require a supervisors involvement. The key is to limit the bureaucracy. There will likely be mistakes made and there will likely be customers that take advantage of this. But you can be certain this is exactly the type of conversation that is happening between marketing departments and HR in particular, but also sharing the responsibility across all employee levels. Frankly, I think that’s a good thing.

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