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31 Jan



Social Media Bandwagon or General Store? You Decide.

January 31, 2011 | By | 2 Comments

inside of country storeAre brands suffering from social media bandwagon syndrome?  Social media blogger and tech geek Tamar Weinberg recently wrote about her own customer service experience.  After tweeting to a Big Brand for help, she received a canned response that left her pining for the days when social media was more personal.

“This thinking unfortunately minimizes the potential of true and far reaching social media strategy, which creates the ability to truly connect with people and build bonds with constituents that can help them evangelize your brand and create passionate advocates,” she said.  Right on, Tamar!  As a consumer, she took away that the company’s responses lacked cohesion—almost to the point that they look unprofessional— “they’re lost about how to really reply at all.”

While she didn’t name the company, out of concern for yet another canned response, sounds like Weinberg may have run into a company with a social media strategy that lacked strategy.

Are some firms participating in social media because they think it’s what they’re supposed to do rather than using it as a tool to build relationships?  Marketing is about community relations.  Think back to the days of the old fashioned general store.  The general store was more than just a place to purchase goods and services; it was a place to gather where neighbors and friends would exchange information (and some gossip) and share their opinions on products, services, and their neighbors over a soda pop.

Social media monitoring and online participation has to start with the strategy of the good ole fashioned General Store owner. He brought people together in one place where they could buy products, talk about the products (and neighbors) read the news, and take a load off.  Oh, and by the way, he also set things up within an earshot of the gossip, so he (or she) could listen to how the ‘neighbor folks’ felt about things (i.e. market research right in his own store).  So, it’s not about the canned responses or the corporate mandate that ‘we need to participate in social media’.  It’s more about what the general store owner did with the information that was exchanged around the water cooler.  I challenge you to do something more than send out canned responses – listen to the voice of the customer.


  1. Great post, Ilona! There’s SO much that this brand can do to create a real General Store environment and they’re definitely missing the boat. Your analogy is spot on. 🙂

  2. Ilona AKA @eyelona

    Thank so much for the feedback, Tamar (and also thanks or the blog idea)! ‘Big Brand’, unfortunately is not the only one missing the boat. So many “replay all” companies out there with canned responses which simply don’t cut it in a community environment.

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