The mass media have been excellent allies to retail businesses. All business owners have to do (or used to do) is book advertising space, pay, blast your marketing messages and pray consumers respond by fattening your cash registers. As a bonus, businesses can also score PR points by associating with charity, especially during the festive season, and invite the media to take pictures of smiling business executives posing with equally smiling beneficiaries.
Disrupting cozy set up
Well, the rise of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and blogs have upset this cozy relationship. Customers are increasingly turning to their friends and influential bloggers for advice on which brands ‘rock’. So if you advertise on mass media that you provide quality products which break after 48 hours, you will be named and shamed, if you advertise on mass media that you provide excellent service but your front line staffers wear sullen faces in front of customers, you will be named and shamed. If you advertise on mass media about ‘special offers’ that in reality are accompanied by tonnes of terms and conditions, your retail business will be named and shamed on social media. If your commercial vehicle is spotted being driven recklessly, its number plates will be named and shamed.
There are over 1 million Kenyans on Facebook, for example. You still don’t believe that your retail business will be unaffected by the social media revolution? Well, have a look at this Facebook page about angry Kenya Airways’ customers.