Social Media: A Loudspeaker

My fiance recently told me, “social media is a loudspeaker, not a quiet box you whisper from”. As I am taking my Stanford Continuing Studies Social Media Marketing Strategy for Brands, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on this tool, platform and revolution our society has been fumbling and succeeding with.

Our very first class assignment: what is social media? Well, ummmmm. It’s my Facebook account? My Twitter feed? A tool that we use everyday, sometimes every minute is so hard to really define. Is it a tool? A means to an ends? Or an enhancement of writing, TV, magazines and tete-a-tete conversations?

Before Twitter, I would have never called friends to say- HEY I’M EATING AN AWESOME SANDWICH!! 🙂

However, social media has so many larger ramifications and applications. In a business environment, it is a way to communicate and engage with customers.  To grow revenue while listening to what future and current customers are saying. Listening.

Organizations, from Microsoft to a small SV startup can’t afford to miss out and let negative PR get out of hand. On that note, I’m going to be an example of this teaching. To use my power as a blogger to share my experience and hopefully be heard. That’s what every customer wants, right? To be heard?

Meetup: My negative experience

As a ReWork Talent Pool member, I started and paid for a Meetup group to enable fellow members to get together socially and network. I made it clear on the group description that this group was separate from the organization, and it’s only goal was networking. As a ReWork Talent Pool member I am simply part of a community and therefore not selling anything or promoting any products.

Since the founders of ReWork were going to be in town this week, I found it a perfect opportunity to get local ReWorker’s together for networking and sharing ideas. I created an event for last night (Thursday) at a local brewery, invited group members, posted on the Facebook talent pool page and posted updates.

Two days before the event I received without any warning an email from the Meetup.com support team saying:

Your Meetup Group, Silicon Valley ReWork Networking Group, was brought to our attention as specifically promoting a business, which is not in compliance with our Terms of Service. Meetup is a community website and not a commercial marketplace.

Meetup’s mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize, and the Meetup platform is intended for groups that will help further this mission.

As a result of our inquiry, we’ve closed your Meetup Group and refunded your Organizer Dues.

Have you considered becoming a Sponsor? Businesses and organizations can support local Meetup Groups as a Sponsor. Sponsors may provide perks and discounts, a place to meet, or even money, all of which helps raise awareness for their business or a brand. Find out more about being a Sponsor here:

http://www.meetup.com/sponsorships/

In the Terms of Service, Meetup reserves the right to remove members, groups and content if the platform is used in a way that is inappropriate.

For more information, you can review the Terms of Service here: http://www.meetup.com/terms/

Sincerely,

Meetup HQ

After I read this, I immediately fired an e-mail back asking them to explain more clearly why they had given me no warning whatsoever for taking down my group. No answer. For 24 hours!

To make a long story short, I have been in correspondence with the Meetup HQ team for almost a week, and still not received any real specific reasoning for their removal of the group and only yesterday was I told that they had lost all of the group information and wouldn’t be able to repost the group. They would not give me a phone number to speak with a representative for their team, or direct e-mail. No answers to my questions like, “This group is not promoting any products or services, not for profit and not commercial. Can I dispute your removal of this group?” or “Why have you given me no warning or saved my group information?” This “issue” had resulted in me having to call the ReWork founder, admit my fault and cancel the event. As an event planner this made me look inadequate and unprofessional.

As any consumer would be, I was frustrated and angry. I was an angry ‘Facebooker’, Tweeter and blogger. Immediately I tagged, #hashtagged, and tweeted Meetup’s fault in a constructive and precise way. No response.

And now, I’m telling my story to my circle of followers and subsequently the world. The ball is in your court, Meetup.

Companies like Meetup cannot afford to not listen to their consumers needs and issues. There is no longer just a “contact us” form on a website that falls into a “black hole”. Companies faults are now public and can spread like wildfire- almost like having your first date live blogged. Consumers are able to get instant responses to their inquiries by simply Tweeting @Target where their tagline is “Expect more. Pay less. Got a question?”

Target is asking their customers for feedback with the understanding that there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be negative. This is the revolution of customer service and market research. While we haven’t perfected the art of big data, companies like Target are doing a lot to utilize social media tools to create great PR, customer service and ultimately profits.

What’s your social media customer service experience?

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