Beware of social media stuff-ups

Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand

Different parts of the country rely on different methods of effective marketing, and this is also determined by the size of your company.

For example, a one-man band situated in Whangamata will advertise differently from one of the top four group housing franchises based in Wellington.

However, it doesn’t matter who you are, how big you are or where you are, there is that overarching marketing weapon that can make or break you — “word of mouth” marketing.

You do well and they will talk about you — you do badly and they will talk about you 10 times as much. And with that infernal invention of social media and the dreaded Facebook, I can guarantee if you done bad, whoever is waiting for you at home will know you done bad before your key gets in the lock. Scary.

So can you afford to do a bad job these days? Well, technically, you could never afford to do bad work, but if we can quote the “old days” prior to social media, then you could move on to the next job before word spread. These days, no such luck.

I bring this topic to your pages for the simple reason that I witnessed a situation recently that was handled through Facebook so badly it cost a young builder his whole reputation for many months to come, and could have been so easily avoided.

Our young, up and coming and way too smart for his own good builder, undertook a kitchen job for a lady who is a self-appointed interior designer, part-time tradie and self-inflicted socialite.

A total recipe for disaster if just a wee mistake is made, right? So, a mistake was made. Was it a big one or a small one? That was dependent on whether you were the builder or the client.

The mistake was the shape of the kitchen sink — she wanted the square and he ordered the round. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of a $40K kitchen job, and an easy fix with a phone call and a reshape of the bench top (luckily not stone, marble or slate). And that’s when common sense and reality left the building.

The mistake was a simple communication hiccup (the start of missed lunches, divorces and world wars) and a missed text (damn the technology age).

It was still fixable with further communication at this point (one does not even have to admit guilt — “no, never got that text, but I can get a square one tomorrow morning, no worries mrs”).

The next week turned into he said, she said, first by text, then she took to Facebook which he immediately counter-posted (because he is of the age bracket that he knew how to).

Now, let’s clarify here — texts should be a personal, two-person conversation. Facebook is, well, not quite so one-on-one, especially with the socialite’s immense following.

It got out of hand within the space of four hours, and went from a wrong shaped sink to “OMG, who would ever employ a builder like this?”

The result was the builder never got paid, and is now spending money on lawyers to fight his claim. The client had an unfinished kitchen for many months until she found somebody to finish it and, of course, ended up paying grotesquely more dollars.

Not to mention the cost of the stress medication they both probably had to take. And what they don’t see is all their friends talking behind their backs saying how dumb the whole thing was while, face to face, they show full support.

We can’t blame technology, social media and Facebook for this whole affair as there are two humans involved. But, again, in the “old days” it would not have spiralled so fast into irretrievable oblivion as, for the most part, it would have stayed between two people.

The irony of the whole mess is that the client has a round kitchen sink and washes her dishes in it every day. Actually, she doesn’t — she has the latest European dishwasher — but you get my point.

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