Adrienne Lawler

Broadcaster Presenter BBC/SKY/ITV/CNN Live Events Facilitator. Adding measurable value and bottom-line impact

Never before in the history of commerce, have customers had more power and more ways in which to wield it.  Gone are the days of 'asking to see the Manager' in the often vein hope that he or she would agree with your complaint over and above backing his or her staff blindly in whatever they had done or failed to do.

Most customer now have a different kind of redress open to them and one that offers them a unique opportunity to be heard by thousands if not millions and dealt with sympathetically. Even if they don't win the point, it gives them the chance to deal a sucker punch to the object of their ire and that alone feels satisfying.

It is of course called 'Social Media' and it is particularly powerful when used against itself; live by the sword, die by the sword. If your organisation is planning to (or has been forced into) utilising Twitter or Facebook to reach out to customers you must be fully prepared and well resourced to handle any backlash. If done right, this can be a really great opportunity to set your company above its competitors, grow customer loyalty and raise brand awareness. Done badly and the consequences are inversely grim, taking years (if ever) to repair.

I saw this article from a company with a great name 'Strawberry Social' and feel it should be compulsory reading anyone and everyone in business, including employees, the younger of whom still live in the misguided belief that only their 'friends' can see what they've been doing online and therefore, won't make a difference to their career prospects.

I have known at least 3 employers who have fired staff precisely because of what they have posted online, it being in breach of either confidentiality, employment conditions or just downright stupid! If you're going to throw  a sickie let me give you a piece of advice; DON'T post pictures of yourself out partying til stupid o'clock the night before/snuggling under the duvet for a marathon session with Jeremy Kyle/or dissing your pig of a boss who wouldn't let you have the day off to go shopping but you've shown him/her because you've just phoned in with a croaky voice and sniffles explaining you can't make it into the office today.

Perhaps of bigger concern is the question of what comes next? None, or at least very few, of us predicted how big and important social media/the online world would become in all areas of our lives so logic says we have no idea about the next revolution either. And we need to, don't we? Or should we just get comfortable and sit back for the ride? Hmmm I'm not very good at either being a passenger or a dis-empowered 'victim'. More than that, I also like to see the sun shine ahead, if only so I can head towards it, which is why if I'm honest, Paul Papadimitriou is one of the people I am most looking forward to hearing speak on Sept 28th. If you can't make it, expect to hear all about it from me,Digby, Phil, get the idea.