Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Customer Trust is So Important...

We work so very hard to get our customers to like us, to buy from us and, ultimately, to trust us. Isn't trust really the epitome of customer loyalty?

Then you read about customer trust gone awry, as in the case of Target misusing social media. It kills me that one of the few huge corporations that actually buys into the value of communicating with customers and prospects through social networks didn't put into practice what I believe is the very essence of social networking. A little thing called Honesty.

From the Star Tribune article: Target, "the Minneapolis-based discount retailer is being outed in online blogs and discussed in college ethics classes after students allied with the company (Rounders) were told to "keep it like a secret" while singing the company's praises on the social network site Facebook.com."

Target gave their 'Rounders' discounts, CDs and other prizes for marketing Target products to their Facebook friends and providing the company with feedback.

Rounders were okay with this concept (heck, they loved the free SWAG!), until in one campaign, they were instructed by a Target-sponsored newsletter to "try not to let on in the Facebook group that you are a Rounder."

As you can imagine, this rubbed some kids the wrong way and (take note here) one Rounder used the Facebook forum to 'out' Target. I love the irony of using the very medium that Target was attempting to control to put out the honest story.

Lesson learned: if you are trying to generate a buzz for your product on places like Facebook, MySpace or even in the blogosphere, do it with integrity. Let your product virtues sell themselves. Manipulation will most likely backfire on you, creating the exact opposite effect of what you were trying to achieve.

Yes, Target did get some word-of-mouth. Sadly, I don't think that this is the exact kind of 'buzz' they were hoping to generate...

1 comment:

Ted Grigg said...

What a novel idea. Companies need to learn how to be honest?

I guess with the employee lawsuits, shareholder fraud and internal politicking, it is a challenge for some corporate managers to trust in something so basic as honesty.

This is another great example of why character is so important for any leader. This is not the doing of one middle manager, but rather the behavior employees may feel compelled to follow based on the actions of the leaders they see around them.