Social Media – Mind the Gap

By Wayne Clouten, BPR

I wrote some time ago about the dangers of reacting to social media feedback and commentary as it is very often not representative of opinion residing in the broader community. I was reminded of this recently when assessing the relative merits of using an airline I had not flown with before.

I linked out to one of the notable customer review websites and discovered to my horror a litany of disparaging reviews about the airline in question with the overview result that the airline scored an average rating of 1.6 of 5.  I found my interest in using the airline rapidly evaporating until I decided to compare the airline’s rating to other airlines I use and know to be very good.  This is when it became abundantly clear that a rating of 1.6 was actually a little better than average with some of the best airline’s I know rating less.

It brought home to me again just how perilous it is to form opinions of things based on what people might post.  Too often the people who make the most noise are those with an axe to grind while those people who are either happy or ambivalent don’t feel any need to stop their life and note that everything is fine and within expectation.

In the media field I have seen songs, subjects, authors, artists, and personalities vilified by people on social media for various reasons while at the same time representative market research reveals a completely different picture.  To make matters worse, people with an open mind and a balanced approach to life are retreating from making comments on social media for fear of being trolled and made to feel bad or worse still; sucked into some form of malignant exchange with someone.  What this means is that proportionally, social media share of voice looks to be skewing towards an idiocrasy.

So what to make of social media commentary? Generally speaking; favourable commentary is likely to be reflective of the broader market while negative commentary is likely to be not.  Mine ideas, thoughts and issues from your social media but never make quantitative assumptions of market sentiment based on social media, particularly if the context is negative.  A chasm is developing between the view of the world fermented by social media and what the majority of people really think, so mind the gap!



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