This is a guest post from Brian G. Rice of Rice Team Consulting, he shared his story of an experience he recently had with a Social Media Community. Today we are going back to small town rules, especially within Social Media Networks, you can’t lie, trick or hide anymore, integrity is at risk if you start playing games with people, or don’t provide good service. Someone, like Brian, will start talking about you and your integrity, your businesses reputation begins to tarnish when this happens.

Here is Brians Story.

Last week a message appeared in my LinkedIn inbox from PwC.  I was being invited to the PwC Private Business Exchange on LinkedIn.  After checking to make sure that the PwC in question was indeed the company formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, I quickly accepted their invitation.

I use social media to market my consulting services.  Here is this great big, well respected company giving me the opportunity to present my content to a whole group of business people within the context of borrowed credibility of PwC?  You betcha I said yes.

To my mind, the fact that this was a LinkedIn group made it even better.

I have been using LinkedIn for over seven years.  LinkedIn was the social media site for business before there really were social media sites.  The culture of LinkedIn has always been one of a high signal to noise ratio.  From its early days as a resume sharing site, it has been a place where you connect with people who you have actually done some sort of business with.

In terms of business credibility, LinkedIn is the best social media site out there.

So I accepted the invitation, and quickly posted an introduction to myself.  Nothing fancy, and nothing long. I suggested that people take a look at my LinkedIn profile, and then I asked a question: What motivates you to hire a consultant?  Nothing spammy.  No hard sales technique.  Just a simple question.  I hit send on my post, and I was informed that it would appear shortly after the moderator approved it.

Then I waited.  And waited.  And waited. And then I was removed from the group.

Before I was able to get to angry about this, I received another note from someone at PwC.  Apparently, they had such a large response to their offer that they decided to create a second group for companies with less than 50 employees because they “recognize that entrepreneurs face unique challenges as they grow their business.”

The message, for those not equipped with built-in Marketing-to-English dictionaries, was basically “We don’t want you bothering our big important potential clients.”

I’m not actually writing this post to pick on PwC.  I am offering here a cautionary tale: marketing social media is about building relationships.   The clear-headed business person in me can see what happened here, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make me angry. PwC is now in deficit relationship-wise with me, and they are going to have to work to gain back my trust.

First impressions in any relationship are important.  PwC is an established, respected company, and they had invited me to join a private business forum! This made a very good first impression.  It didn’t matter that I knew I had just been bulk invited to this list.  The invite did make me feel important and special.

I’d still feel that way if they had simply done a little research into my company (everything they needed to know is on my LinkedIn profile) and invited me to their “Entrepreneurs Exchange” in the first place.  Instead, as I emailed to the forum administrator, I feel like I have been shuffled off to the small kids table.  The fact that I have never received a response to that email has only worked to underline this feeling.

If you are going to use social media to market your company, you need to understand that relationships are built on communication.

A short email back to me, sincere and honest in its approach, could have turned my entire attitude around.  Even an email disagreeing with me would have been better than nothing.  By ignoring me, they have made me feel even less respected than before.

The future of business and marketing is based on relationships.  More and more, people are going to buy products and services from people they trust and have a relationship with.  Companies like PwC are realising that this shift is occurring, and they are trying to take advantage of it.

But just like real life, the downside of using relationships to market your product or service is that when you make a mistake, you need to work much harder to fix the problem.  A single negative “debit” on the relationship balance sheet can wipe out multiple positive “credits”.

As I am finishing this article, I have been waiting over twenty-four hours to have a post approved to the new PwC forum I was invited to.  Rationally, I’m sure that the moderator has just been busy. But emotionally?  I just can’t help feeling more ignored.


Do you have any thoughts or comments you wish to leave Brian? Is he over reacting, is he right, what do you think? Feel free to comment here on

About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  

1 Comment

  1. Brian G. Rice on July 18, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    As a counter-point: I had a bad customer-service experience at London Drugs today, which I posted on foursquare, twitter and facebook.  Within a couple of hours, I got a tweet back apologizing for the incident and offering help if I still needed it.  I feel better about my experience, and it cost London Drugs nothing to reverse the damage done by an inconsiderate employee. This is how Social Media is supposed to work!