Being Social

I recently read an article about how fashion companies are missing the boat when it comes to their use of social media to connect with their customers.  I think that what it boils down to is that the meaning of the word social somehow escapes them.

I don’t know who minted the phrase social media, but when it comes to companies  it seems like a misnomer.  To quote Webster:  “social – relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other.”

The problem with the way so many companies use the term is that they view twitter, instagram, facebook and their own blogs as a platform to talk to people.  Instead it should be a vehicle for conversation.  The article I read quoted a study that said that at least 60% of companies who are tagged on social media do not respond to the tagger regardless of whether the message is positive or negative.

It got me to thinking about my own experience with companies and social media.  Over the past several years I’ve tagged several on twitter and instagram, and I can tell you my reply rate is lower than 40%.  The only company to ever acknowledge my tags has been Pendleton.

But what is interesting is how differently vintage sellers respond to internet messages.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a vintage seller ignore a  message I’ve sent through twitter or the other platforms.  They seem to know what the big guys do not know – that communication builds customers.  I’ve been on Instagram less than five months, and I’ve bought three things that I first saw posted at Instagram.  In all three cases I asked the seller about the item and in all three cases the seller replied.  Do you think I’d have bought their stuff if I’d been ignored?




Filed under Viewpoint

9 responses to “Being Social

  1. This is a major problem with companies in areas beside fashion… it’s supposed to be a dialogue, not their platform!
    del, who used to be in communications


  2. Another thought provoking post Lizzie. I couldn’t agree more. 🙂


  3. I totally agree with you, Lizzie. One of the things I find regarding large brands is the bigger they get, the more the customer service suffers. I think there is a point when you can get too big to keep up with the conversation. That’s why I always try to buy from small businesses when I can~better communication, more personal service!


    • So true. I ordered some nail products from a very large company, and they arrived in a too-large box with no packing materials. After clanging around for a 1000 miles, one of the bottles broke and the other bottles were covered with polish and shards of glass. I emailed the customer service of the company, explaining the problem. It was over a week before I got a reply, and they offered to replace only the broken bottle. It finally arrived, rattling around in a big box with no packing materials. Guess what company has been marked off my list?


  4. Thanks for the mention, Lizzie. Social media is a tricky terrain.


  5. This is such an interesting topic and one that really showcases the interesting dichotomy between small businesses, especially vintage ones, and technology and big business and technology. Both massive companies and corporations and technology are products of the modern age, while small businesses, and vintage are old-fashioned or are about old products. The old fashioned small businesses are embracing technology, while the big companies are not. I guess maybe it’s the simply economics and abilities to actually connect? Small businesses are small, obviously, and they are 1. capable of interacting directly and with full knowledge of their business, while corporations are so large and no one person can know all of the going-ons of their company, 2. small businesses NEED their customers to survive, they need every sale they can get, and they know that good customer service is the best way to get and keep customers, and therefore make money and survive, while big corporations almost really don’t need to actively work hard to interact with their customers, they are capable of producing multi-million dollar commercials, celebrity endorsements, etc., while small businesses cannot. I know so many shop owners who rely solely on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, as ways to “advertise”. They don’t even put ads in local papers. Social media is free (well, sort of, as Facebook is now limiting the reach of “pages” unless you pay) and that is why small businesses utilize it, because every penny saved matters.

    Woo, sorry for the essay! I am just really interested in this!

    Also, like you, I have bought several items based upon just seeing the item on Instagram, in various ways, seeing it posted, buying it via Etsy, or if it’s a local shop, requesting the item to be put on hold while I make me way to the shop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting analysis!

      I’m sure that some large companies do this, but if they are going to have a social media presence, then it needs to be an important part of their ad or PR strategy. Make it someone’s job, for crying out loud!

      Also doing a good job of communicating via social media are small museums, and we know how understaffed they can be. I know of one museum – The Charleston Museum – that always replies to tweets in which they are tagged, and will retweet as well. People remember stuff like that.


  6. Spot on and definitely something I’ve noticed too. The “human” element matters.


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