Arguably, the biggest benefit of social media for businesses is “eavesdropping”. Seeing what people are saying about you. Where in your system they’re having problems. And fixing your internal systems based on these external experiences.
But, there’s a huge PR benefit to “listening” to.
Recently, Ben & Jerry’s was heralded for a social media response they offered. Here’s the short of it. Ben & Jerry’s obviously has a Twitter alert out for “ice cream”. Because after Twitter user @whatsnext tweeted “just ordered a week’s worth of stuff for juicing + soup + ice cream for my upcoming oral surgery. yecch.”, Ben & Jerry’s official account @cherrygarcia replied, “Saw that you ordered a week’s worth of ice cream for your upcoming oral surgery. yecch indeed. Can we help? :)”
A few days later after a few direct messages back and forth, @whatsnext received a hand-written letter in the mail wishing her a speedy recovery along with several coupons for some free pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Great story, right? And if they do that for her, they’ll probably do that for me? Maybe. But, probably not. Because @whatsnext has more than 7,000 followers. Ben & Jerry’s knew what they were doing. They engaged in selfish altruism. It’s awesome. But it is what it is. They were hoping their good deed would go reported. And it did.