By Beth J. Bates, New Media Special Correspondent

Let's face it. With social media usage on the rise, news travels fast. And bad news travels even faster. In the past, if you had a bad experience with a company you might write a letter to the CEO or tell your friends face-to-face. But today, a viral complaint is just a click away.

Social media, however, can be used to turn a disgruntled client's frown upside down. Companies like Comcast, Century Link and Ning use Twitter to monitor customer issues — and they take rapid action. Their quick response gives customers a sense of priority and their professionalism builds loyalty. With the economy still weak but on the mend, happy customers can keep a company afloat.

When I have a positive experience with a company, however small, I like to tell people about it — in person and online. That's the power of customer service, and it spreads quickly.

On the flip side, many companies never monitor their social media streams. So when a customer complains and gets no response, the damage is multiplied (remember, it's a public forum). Poor service like this can be detrimental to a brand.

Social media is a powerful tool for managing your customers needs in real-time. It gives you the chance to intervene before a problem spins out of control. When managed properly, it gives you the ability to demonstrate your company's responsiveness and strengthen your brand.


Beth J. Bates consults with Hinge on social media tool selection and strategy and helps its clients find effective ways to leverage these new mediums to meet business goals.