How Millennials (And Others) Use Social Media For Brand Accountability

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social media brand accountability

Brand accountability is a growing trend with how consumers are using social media today.

This means your worst brand behavior is paraded online for potential customers to consume.

How is this impacting your brand reputation and purchasing decisions from would-be customers?

We’re dissecting the latest Sprout Social Index to find out.


Taking Brands To Task

Sprout Social’s 2017 Q3 Index calls it the “call-out culture” — where consumers take their rants to social media to highlight, amplify, and berate bad brand behavior.

Their stats are staggering when it comes to brand accountability through social:

  • 46% of consumers have used social to “call out” brands
  • 4 in 5 consumers think social media has increased accountability for businesses
  • 55% of consumers call out brands on social to get a resolution or response
  • 81% of people say that social media has increased brand accountability

And millennials are the quickest and most likely group to use social media as an accountability medium.

56% of this group has called out brands on social, while 61% of other generations have remained mum.


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We know that social media saw the balance of power switch from brands to the consumer.

Now we know that consumers are using that power to take a stand against brands engaging in inappropriate behavior.

47% of consumers are willing to take brands to task on social media for bad behavior. Click To Tweet

Consumer Complaints

Consumer complaints aren’t new, but it seems the medium is.

Using social media not only amplifies the user’s message, it acts as a warning to other customers. The biggest reasons for online complaints according to the report are:

  1. Dishonesty (remember, authentic is better than “cool” on social)
  2. Bad customer service
  3. Rudeness (in-person)
  4. Bad product experience
  5. Overcharging
  6. Unresponsiveness
  7. Rudeness (online)
  8. Too political


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As for why consumers rant on social about brand accountability, 70% say it’s to protect other customers.

Which works, because 65% of consumers say that when they see a brand called out on social, they’ll think twice about buying from them.


Other reasons for calling out brands included getting a response or resolution, to raise awareness of the issue(s), or to get a refund or a discount.


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The silver lining in this brand accountability squabble is that brands still have time to fix things when that first complaint is made.

All eyes are on you — the brand — to now see how you will handle this complaint.

Receiving criticism online isn't the end of the road for brands. How they respond is.Click To Tweet

Take Back Control By Thinking Conversation

You have a chance to make things right. It only takes two things: a helpful response.

That’s right, you not only have to respond to the complaint, it also has to be a thoughtful and valuable response (you can’t be surprised).

  • About 50% of consumers say they’d never buy from the brand again if they got a less-than-helpful response
  • 41% of people say they’d share that poor response with their online network
  • A poor response from your brand means you increase your chances of being boycotted by 43% of consumers


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To combat negative reviews, read our recent post about reviews, and take note of below tips.

5 things you need to recognize about negative reviews:

  1. Bad reviews merely show that your products/services weren’t the best fit for that particular consumer.
  2. For every customer who complains, 26 remain silent. You should see bad reviews as the best gift you’ve ever been given; do your research and FIX IT!
  3. Mistakes happen. Negative reviews should be used to build deeper relationships with your clients.
  4. Take a deep breath before responding. Or walk away. Or talk about it with a team member.
  5. Sometimes you’ll be faced with a real jerk who is only looking to defame you and your business (but treat every complaint like it can be solved, anyway).


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Your response could be the difference between a lost consumer and winning a customer back with a great response.

Take brand control back with a #ThinkConversation attitude!Click To Tweet

Brand Accountability Requires Listening & Responding

Keep up with whether your brand is being praised or pounded online. You’ll need to constantly be listening to do this.

Furthermore, when bad — or good — complaints come along, how you respond can shape the future of how current customers and would-be consumers view your brand.

We use Sprout Social to put our ear to the social sphere and find out what’s being said about us and our clients. (Read their entire Q3 2017 Sprout Social Index here)

What tools or methods do you use to keep up with brand accountability and customer complaints? Let us know in the comments section below!


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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
Conversations That Connect
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Category: Branding, Customer Service, Reputation Management
Tags: brand accountability, consumer complaints, customer complaints, negative reviews, online reviews
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