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Bucking the social media trend

Bucking the social media trend - by Cristina Alarcon

The pitfalls of using social media for business purposes.
Something tells me that 2011 will see a plethora of business-boosting innovations, not the least of

which entails marketing—“putting yourself out there” and increasing visibility.
Although this can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, more and more organizations are turning to the virtual world of social networking.

And while some of us dawdle with our “still-underconstruction-webpage”, others are up and running on Facebook and launching iPhone applications so customers can stay in touch.
And why not?  After all, the virtual world seems a great way to reach out, and best of all, advertising is free—at least on Facebook.

And yet everything comes with a price. If there is anything about Facebook that makes me cringe, it’s that “open-for-all” Wall.
It’s really great when people post kindly wishes, but can you imagine complaints about your services being plastered all over your Wall and propagating through cyberspace to the ends of the earth—and forever?

Take, for instance, this real comment posted by a disgruntled customer…
“Hi. I just wanted to let you know that I had horrible customer service problem at my Shoppers Drug Mart. I wanted to return some unopened shampoo/conditioner but they refused to take it back so I lost my $50. Everytime I talk to a store manager they dont care about the customers. I refuse to shop at Shoppers Drug Mart anymore.” December 30, 2010 at 4:37pm

Or this comment by another:  “Hi Shoppers, is there a number I can contact to make a complaint?”
While an open-for-all Wall appears to signify transparency, openness and public accountability, I much prefer other ways of boosting my professional visibility.
Other blog entries from From Pill to Till
 January 27, 2011:
Twas the night before Christmas: A pharmacy Christmas carol
 November 24, 2010:
Pharmacists: frontline in environmental wellness?
 November 3, 2010:
Change by force

For instance, why not get your face plastered on the front page of your local paper?  Do the Sun Run. Do whatever, except run naked down the street or rob a bank…just get out there in your community.

Most recently, yours truly was featured on the front page of the Northshore News—not the greatest snap shot, nor did I really do anything.  I just smiled for the cameraman (who took the highly distorted shot), asking the public to drop off their outdated or unused medications as part of a BC Pharmacy Association and Metro Vancouver program.

So now, not only are people coming into the pharmacy with their garbage—er …antiquities—but fallen-away customers I had not seen in a while are dropping by to say hello, and one of them ventured to suggest that since I now rank among the stars, I ought to be charging a higher dispensing fee! Little does he know…

 Sure, the virtual world is one way of getting ourselves “out there”, but I much prefer the one-on-one, eye-to-eye contact with real flesh and blood people.
Facebook is great for personal use, but when it comes to business… I can’t imagine myself monitoring complaints and answering queries such as:

Steph Bonner—“I was just wondering what should I do if I get a recording that says you do not
have a file at this drugstore. I have had this problem more than three times. Should i just come in and order my meds or what?”

…Unless, of course, I pay my teenage nephews to do it.


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