“I love Walgreen’s!”: Referral-based Marketing

Just this week I was fortunate enough to run across a prime example of referral-based marketing: There was a glowing review for Walgreen’s Pharmacy from an acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook. In true social media form, her review was commented on and expanded by several other friends: Said one female, “I [love] Walgreen’s!”

Now, it just so happens that not two weeks earlier I had a horrible experience at the very same Walgreen’s: After nearly giving the customer in front of me the incorrect dosage of her prescription, the pharmacist asked me for information about a new type of antibiotic I was picking up for my son’s ear infection. (Seriously!) In addition my also-sick five-year-old and I were fortunate enough to get to wait 45 minutes to experience these exchanges. I was unimpressed to say the least. I told my husband about it, I complained to my mother, I even told a few friends, but (prior to today) I did not rant online. I never thought to.

Even with my terrible experience my friends’ exuberant posts made me think twice about my local Walgreen’s. Considering my initial reaction was to never step foot back in d**n store, I am forced to come to terms with persuasive power of the opinions of those in my social network! This leads me to wonder what type of power a negative comment has on a business’s reputation. In Socialnomics, Erik Qualman states (p. 205), “Heck, if there isn’t 5 to 10 percent negative noise around your brand, then your brand is either irrelevant or not being aggressive enough in the space. The quickest death in this new Socialnomic world is deliberating rather than doing.”

I have to say I see Qualman’s point here. There are so many things in process online, that a few negative comments are unlikely to be able to reverse all of the positives that happen with socially-connected marketing efforts. Case in point is the example Dr. Pignetti has shared that involves a poorly handled online interaction by Progressive Insurance. Although the negative press is rather intense (and understandably so), the largest initial problem with the occurrence was Progressive’s canned response. Had Progressive been monitoring their Twitter feed more closely and responded in a prompt way to dispel the idea of their lawyer representing the defendant in the accident trial, they may have even been able to shine as a caring and connected company. (I am extending the benefit of the doubt here in hopes that Progressive indeed did not have the defendant’s lawyer on payroll.) No matter how you view this terrible incident, for better or worse it is likely that Progressive (and other companies like them) will see far greater benefits in social media marketing than the sum of most negative press.

Posted on November 4, 2012, in Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. A applaud your acquaintance for voicing her positive opinion on a social network. Often, people only voice opinions when they are dissatisfied, which is why (I think) companies may shy away from social media. I agree with your assertion, though, that many companies will see greater benefits in social media marketing than not participating in it all together. After all, when they actively participate, they can actively interject a positive voice into the chatter.

  2. I think the thing about the Progressive Insurance example is that it makes you appreciate when customer service moments go well, whether on the phone or online. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Nike and American Express via Twitter, because they have actual people signing their tweets, but who knows if everyone can say the same. If you join Twitter, I can tell you that somewhere every hour someone is complaining about an airline doing something wrong…but perhaps Walgreens could learn something from a negative write up? Go, JoDee, Go! 🙂

  3. My school district is “marketing” itself through Facebook. I’m not sure I would look to a Facebook page to find information about a school district, and maybe that explains why there is so little public feedback on the site. The district itself does a fair job of updating the site, but not many people are commenting. Scrolling through the old comments, I found one criticism, and it was responded to the next day; that impressed me. On the other hand, another person made a suggestion for the site on Monday, and that has not been responded to, and a student made a criticism just a few hours ago. It will be interesting to see how long it takes to respond to that and how it will be handled.

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