Preferential treatment is something we can’t evade in the world of social media influencers – outlets, brands and PR are (often) giving in to the whims and fancies of these said target groups, in hopes of building good working relationships.
While this isn’t a new concept (influencers get better treatment in general), brands are aggressively moving towards influencer marketing; thinking this move can take their brand to the next level. As a result, the regular folks get neglected or left out because they aren’t pegged as influential enough. That’s where I feel the problem lies.
Everyone should be treated as important – whether you’re a celebrity, top influencer, up and coming personality or a regular person. When you disrespect or alienate someone, your brand gets affected. People are influencers too; in their own unique way. Some do it via word of mouth while others resort to social media to share their frustrations.
I’ve had instances where brands want to personally be there to ensure my experience is as pleasant as they want it to be. I often ask them – what about the experience of a regular Jane/Joe? Is it going to be as good? Often, it’s not.
As a marketeer myself, I remind my clients every other day to be fair. Take F&B for example; if an influencer gets 10 dumplings on a plate, the customer should receive the same. Often, the portions are skewed and presentation, exaggerated during a food review.
I experienced several incidences where I did things the “proper way” and lodged complaints using my personal account and real name (Bangsar Babe is not my real name, in case you didn’t already know that). No reply was given. But when I used Bangsar Babe’s FB Page to voice out the same issue, the replies came in within 30 minutes.
So, ‘Sue Lynn’ doesn’t have much value to brands but the minute they see Bangsar Babe on the other end, service suddenly becomes 10 times better and personalised? I once waited rather patiently for a bank to get my online banking right but to no avail. The minute I resorted to use Bangsar Babe to bring the issue up, the digital team reverts within 30 minutes.
And then there’s an incident where I had crappy burgers and I used my personal account to raise a complaint. Naturally, the restaurant didn’t bother replying and my feedback was left untouched, along with the other complaints of other customers.
I shared the experience on Bangsar Babe’s profile and the restaurant reverted quickly (on my page) and even offered to compensate me for my unsatisfactory dinner. Gee, thanks. But no thanks. What about the rest of their unhappy customers? Would they be compensated the same way? I doubt it.
When an influencer receives special treatment, businesses are perceived to draw a line to indicate importance. That isn’t right, I feel. Being friendlier is somewhat acceptable and inevitable (you will need to PR with the media / influencers) if it’s a hosted invite or a brand engagement, but there should never be a blatant double standard.
While I’m often on the better side of the receiving end, I feel bad for those who are ignored because they don’t have what brands term as “influencing power”. However big or small ones’ influencing power may be, they should all be treated with the same amount of respect and acknowledgement.
If you’re managing a brand, ask yourself this. “Would I go the same extra mile for a regular customer?” If your answer is no, then you shouldn’t be bending backwards for an influencer.
*My personal opinion and also how I choose to run the Bangsar Babe brand.