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Does Social Media Fuel Business Discontent?

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My January edition of Wired magazine arrived last week, and the cover headline caught my attention—“#RIOT: How Social Media Fuels Social Unrest.”

The headline triggered the memory of a recent conversation I had with a corporate communications specialist. This specialist told me it was essential that corporations have a social-media manager to monitor and respond to what’s being said about them on social-media sites.

Recently, I heard a story about an entrepreneur who lacked an online presence. His business dropped significantly after one unhappy customer expressed dissatisfaction in a personal blog. In the absence of an online presence, this single customer’s dismay became the only social-media message about the company.

Past studies have shown that a satisfied customer will tell two to three people about a positive experience with your company. A dissatisfied customer, however, will share his or her feelings with eight to 10 people. And some will push that number to 20. Add in the effect of social media, and one dissatisfied customer could tell hundreds of thousands of people about a bad experience and effectively shut down your business.

That’s if you don’t have a strong social media presence by way of a website that can include testimonials. You could call this Social Media 101. The next step would be to have a page on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Participating in conversations on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter would constitute a graduate seminar in the subject.

As an entrepreneur, you simply must initiate the first phase of a social-media plan: a website, quarterly blogs and an e-newsletter. Your commitment to these basics will guarantee that your (positive) posts will be the first things that come up on search engines, not the post of an unhappy customer.

Sounds a bit like social-media fear-mongering doesn’t it? But fear that an unhappy customer will write something negative about you is not the reason to participate in social media.

The best thing about social media is that it will help you to find your voice, and in doing so, you will be able to bring your unique value offering to others. Remain true to your highest values, and what you practice in private will be rewarded in public.

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Simon Reilly of Leading Advisor Inc. is a financial advisor coach, speaker and writer. Simon writes a daily blog and can be reached at