November 14, 2011 —
I came across a very interesting neuromarketing article about contagious dissatisfaction that featured an experiment by Martin Lindstrom, author of the best-selling book Brandwashed.
Four actors were hired to sit in the middle of a restaurant, pretending to be friends sharing a normal meal. They all ordered the soup as it was the only starter on the menu. After breaking some bread and taking his first spoonful of soup, one of the actors called for a waiter and raged at him for three minutes about the scalding temperature of the soup. As the soup continued to be served to the other tables, complaints began to roll in. By the end of the dinner, 26% of diners had made similar complaints. Each bowl came from the same pot, so either they all had extremely sensitive tongues, or they had all been influenced by the initial complaint.
In a social media / digital context, consumer-generated information about your brand, both good and bad, is roaming wild. If people have reason to expect problems with your product or service due to the complaints of other customers through social media, it may trigger a contagious negative effect.
Community managers need to be aware of what is being said about the product, service or brand; and have processes in place to quickly apologise and fix the negative sentiment. Good things can go viral, but so do the bad – and it’s important to remember that by not actively listening and being part of the social media space only means ignorance to these complaints.