Twenty years ago, if you needed a landscaper, a place to buy a cake, or somewhere new to dine, you asked a friend, or you looked it up in the Yellow Pages. Now, you post a question on Facebook, Google it, or tweet about it, and instantly have answers. While these social media venues can be amazing tools, and great for certain business, it also can be very harmful to some businesses. For example, let’s say you used a carpet cleaning service and were overjoyed with their service, twenty years ago maybe you would have told your close friends, but nowadays you can go on your Facebook account and comment on it to all of your friends, and groups. That's great, but what happens if you were dissatisfied with that service? Unfortunately, many people also post and tweet about those experiences. By bashing a small business online it can have very detrimental and long lasting effects on that business, and most of the time, the business are not in a position to be able to defend themselves in this type of setting. Unfortunately, as many of us know, bad reviews travel much faster than good ones! So is Facebook and Twitter helping businesses or hurting them?
Take for instance, the website J. Crew Aficionada, according to the blog’s description this site is a forum for people to express their thoughts and opinions about J. Crew. The site posts any relevant J. Crew Coupons, posts about new items, but also has a forum where readers can post about negative experiences with J. Crew, i.e. if a button falls off a sweater, if something does not wash well, etc. So, while many of the posts are positive, there are the few negative comments about J. Crew. So is it true that there is no such thing as bad publicity?
If used correctly, social media can be a great tool for small businesses and consumers alike. One such example is the new Facebook group Moms4Moms. This group was started three months ago by two local moms looking to "fill the gap" between women-owned small businesses and their target audience, local women. "Moms4Moms was developed to provide a forum for small, local women-owned businesses–who have limited marketing resources and opportunities for advertising–to market their goods and services. After only 100 days, the company serves as a virtual Facebook marketplace on for close to 200 women-owned businesses in Central New Jersey and beyond! Moms4Moms member businesses are able to network and market their businesses for free to almost 1,000 members of the group, and in turn those members get valuable discounts to local and online women-owned businesses!", says Katie Young Cunningham, Basking Ridge resident, mom to three young children and Co-Founder of Moms4Moms.
Moms4Moms members may post freely on the site, but one of the most important guidelines for participation is that members are not permitted to post any negative comments or experiences about local businesses. The Moms4Moms group is a forum to provide positive information and mutual support and encouragement of other women-especially business owners. The founder’s have found this lacking in our society today.
According to their description, Moms4Moms(TM) is an invitation-only Facebook group for local women in Central NEW JERSEY and surrounding areas to learn about and support woman-owned local businesses. It is also designed for women in our community to promote their small businesses FOR FREE. Members of Moms4Moms enjoy exclusive access to coupons and benefits provided by local and online women-owned businesses. Some of the participating businesses on the site include Willow St. Boutique in Morristown and Summit, A Place of My Own in Bernardsville, Kangaroo Kidz in Bernardsville, and Para L'elle in Mendham. Most recently, Mia Dennis offered a generous discount to Moms4Moms members. During her Monday Mention week Maria Fiori Samara, owner of Mia Dennis says, she “counted about 14 Moms4Moms receipts and around 10 were new clients. Moms4Moms is a fabulous resource for a new business owner like myself. It's a great way to share photos of merchandise, special events and sales. I also feel like I am really connecting on a more personal level to women in my community.”
But this free site is an exception to the rule, so if you have a small business, look for unique ways to market your business using your Facebook page. There are lots of Facebook apps that can help you get "Likes" and different ad packages that you can buy to target your specific audience.
If you are a consumer, think before posting about a business, good or bad. Take a deep breath and decide if you are better to vent your frustration to thousands of people who won't be able to make the situation better, or if it is better to reassess and contact the business owner or manager, and give them a chance to remedy the situation before their reputation gets tarnished on Facebook.