Andy Warhol once said: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, and time has proved him right. Nowadays, you can even turn around the expression and asseverate that, in the future, everyone will have his 15 minutes of privacy, meaning that today we live in a world where everything is shared through the internet thanks to different social networks and other social media.
Social media is a great challenge for businesses, it includes not only social networks like Facebook or Twitter, but blogs, forums and comments on online media; anywhere where a customer can write a complaint or a good review. The internet has become a huge amplifier for angry or happy clients, and that forces us, entrepreneurs, and any other established company, to develop a strategy to interact with those clients and take part in those conversations, but also to be ready to face any crisis that arises due to a failure in applying that strategy.
A defective product, an inefficient customer care, misleading advertising… whatever makes the customer unsatisfied could make him share that bad experience with others, and what can seem just one comment in a blog, can trigger a huge wave of bad publicity. Golf teaches us that, in the internet era we live, you can never let your guards down, and that you have to be very careful, fast and effective when dealing with your customers.
For example, when Tiger Woods dropped his ball after a shot that ended with the ball in the water during the last day of The Player tournament, whoever was watching it in TV had quite clear that it was an incorrect drop, and fans rapidly flooded the social media with their impressions about that drop, specially in Twitter. The TV showed a replay of Tiger Woods’ fateful shot from a camera placed on a Zeppelin, and the images confirmed that Tiger had proceeded against the rules, but that video was emitted only once.
Fans and viewers were claiming online that replay, but no more images of what happened in hole 14 were showed, so many saw that as an attempt of hiding what would have been Tiger Woods’s third rules scandal of the season. In a few minutes, many fans uploaded that video, and the images went around the world almost instantly, showing that Tiger had played that drop unfairly, something unacceptable for a player of his class. Furthermore, Tiger finally won the tournament, and many considered his win also unfair.
What we can learn from what happened to Tiger and the PGA Tour is that hiding the facts only leads to an unnecessary scandal. The PGA Tour’s way of acting turned against them, and instead of people talking about how interesting and thrilling was the last day of The Player, everybody was talking about cheats. It would have been better to realize that the internet is a huge speaker for customers and viewers, and that they are going to use it if they are not happy or want to complain about something.