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Why Namibian companies should not fear social media

Namibian marketing managers seem to stay away from social media as they are afraid people will say bad things about them. But is pretending social media does not exist really the solution to the problem? Are people talking about your company on Facebook? Probably. And if you do not have a Facebook page, or Twitter account, that conversation is happening in a space where you can not influence it, let alone control it.
The fact is that people are complaining about your company already on Facebook. A fact that simply can not be changed by marketing managers closing their eyes and pretending it is not so.

The typical reaction is to shoot the messenger. Namibian companies view a complainer as the enemy –  someone to be silenced. One local supermarket chain decided that, despite the fact that they hate and fear the internet, they would open a Facebook page. But they decided to impose their ‘House Rules’ on the page. And according to the house rules, all negative comments will be deleted! – and they will contact you via inbox, just like the guy with the Nigerian scam wants to do. He is scared of public scrutiny as well. It is not a good image for your brand. The point of social media is that you can show that you care about your customers and you have nothing to hide.
So, after a long work day, you walk into this store, buy some meat which turns out to be past due, you decide to complain (as is your right) and the company deletes your comment? Can you imagine a worse policy than that? After being sold low quality goods, your comment gets deleted by the low quality marketing team, leaving one to NEVER shop there again and to post the experience all over the net.
Censorship does not work, (ask the Swapo Youth League) and almost always backfires. If you delete a client’s comment from your page, they will be sure to post it where lots of people will see it. If you delete my complaint off your wall, I will re-post it and tag some journalists and politicians in it this time or post it on one of the consumer group pages and any other forum I can find.
I worked in a restaurant when I was at university. My manager always stressed to the staff that the complainer was your best friend. Who does the complainer tell? He tells you. The person who is unhappy and does not complain tells everybody but you, and your reputation suffers.
The complainer gives you a chance to fix the situation and maybe even keep the complainer as a client. Just show that you CARE a little bit., Most people just want to have their complaint acknowledged. They sure don’t expect you to delete it.
Others feel that they are too big to be on social media at all. And they are wrong. Coca Cola and General Electric are there, but you think you know better? Wrong again.
Open a page and let people complain there. They can tell you what’s wrong with your service, and if you are smart, you will listen. If you tell them they can’t post on your wall, they will do the same as they did when Bank of America decided they would not let people have their say. They will open a page called ‘Bank of America sucks’ as several people have done.
Deal with your complainer head on. If you are wrong – apologise, and try to fix the problem but keep in mind it is not always the fault of your company. It may have been a misunderstanding, which you now get to explain to the client and clear your name. Service in Namibia is poor, we all know that. Ignoring the customers who complain is one way to make sure that the service remains poor.

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