This week I had a weird, yet awesome experience. I had heard of businesses using their social media outlets as an extension of their customer service, but I had never heard of anyone who had experienced that. Let alone, that I myself, experienced it. Until now. Here’s what happened.
I’ve been on the hunt for a good, solid strapless bra for years. I am well-endowed in the chest area and finding regular bras can be a feat. Strapless bras are worse. In fact, I didn’t own one until last October. That was when I decided to go to Hunkemoller, a large lingerie chain store in the Netherlands. I hardly buy anything there, just undies, because their bras just don’t cut it for me and after finding my holy grail at Victoria’s Secret I hadn’t considered their bras for one second. This time I was on a mission though and since the fit of a strapless bra is the most important I didn’t want to buy something on a whim online only to find out that it won’t fit. Returning items to Vic’s Secret is a costly endeavor.
Lo and behold! I found the perfect one. After trying on what seemed like 10 different ones, the store clerk took one out and it fit like a glove. Not only that, it stays put, offers enough support and it’s comfy. So the other day I decided I wanted the same one but in a different color. I went to the store, but they had nothing there. The model was discontinued. I spewed my disappointment on Twitter:
I just posted that, no @, no RT, I don’t even follow Hunkemoller on Twitter. I wasn’t thinking anything of it, but the next day I received this message:
I didn’t ask them for help. I didn’t say I wanted to try to find it anywhere else. Yet, they were offering me their help. I took a picture of the bra I already have, send it to them and they replied asking me to send them an email with my zip code so they could find out whether the bra is still sold anywhere near me. And they did. In a matter of three days, I went from being frustrated to being given a list of places where they still sell the bra (in my size too may I add) and the message that they would be coming out with a new one soon.
At first, I was quite baffled by this. But then I remembered reading that business have started to use social media as an extension to their customer service. What they basically do is scour Twitter and Facebook in search of customers with negative experiences after which they offer help to solve the problem. It’s part of their strategy for managing the company’s image and with that a marketing strategy. See, the fact that I am now telling people (in real life and through this blog) about this experience is good for the company.
However, this also brings me to another point. How far do the messages you send via social media spread? Isn’t it a weird idea that anyone, anywhere can now just read my messages? Who reads them? When do they read them? And are those people the kind of people I want reading my messages?
I think that many people using social media often don’t think about this. Remember, my post didn’t ask Hunkemoller to do anything about the problem and I didn’t send the message to them directly. Yet, they responded. This means that what you post could end up in anyone’s hands. This can be a positive thing, like my experience right now, but it could also be a negative thing. Your parents might see things you don’t want them to see, or your boss, or your partner, or whoever. All I know is: it’s very clear to me that it has become a whole lot harder to keep secrets when you’re using social media. Especially with Facebook having the obscurest privacy settings and the spreading of messages in general not being under your control anymore gives me a bit of an uncanny feeling. It’s like the world is really becoming more like Orwell’s Big Brother from 1984.
Think about it. Posting online gives companies, governments and anyone else you don’t want looking into your business, just that: a look into your business and the potential ability to use that information to your benefit, but potentially also to your demise. It makes for targeted commercials and advertisements (I’m down with that I guess), help from companies, the ability to find a job or sell your house, but it also creates a setting for controlling your every move or at least keeping tabs.
What about you: do you find it unsettling that whatever you write online (including this blog dare I say) is out in the open and up for grabs for anyone to do with that whatever they like? Or don’t you worry about this at all and you will just see what happens when it happens? I am also curious to know why!