Which? launched its first website (and forum) in 1996. That’s two years before you could even search for that site on Google. We might have been an early mover on the web, but we were slower in the social media game.
We launched our first Twitter handle in 2009, our Facebook page in 2011, hired our first Social Media Manager in 2012, and only joined Instagram in 2018. I joined Which? in 2010, the same year Which? Conversation came onto the scene too. I’m sure there’s a connection somewhere…
Over the years we’ve used social media creatively for campaigning and content promotion. But we had become a little complacent and began to focus too much on driving people to our website.
We had lost sight of the inherent value of social media: to reach, connect with and build highly engaged communities. In that sense, it’s very similar to what we do here on Which? Convo.
A new approach
Last year we reset our strategy. We knew we had all the essential ingredients to thrive on social media. We’re on the consumers’ side. We provide solutions to people’s problems. And we make the difficult simple. These are all valuable and engaging messages to bring to the millions of people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…
Close to half the world’s population is on at least one social media platform. Half of the UK’s population is on Facebook alone. Of course, our social following is a little more modest than that. We have 150,000 followers between our two most popular accounts, Facebook and Twitter. It might not sound like much, but it’s 50,000 more than last year.
Some of you might be thinking that just because lots of people are on social media, that doesn’t mean it’s a good place to be. Let’s stick with that thought for a little bit, and expand on it. Is social media a force for good? I can speak from personal experience and say that some days I feel it enriches my life. Other days it detracts from it.
Social media can make it easier to stay in touch with those close to you, but it can also make you feel further away from them too. Together and alone.
Fake news, fake reviews
Then there’s the misinformation that’s propagated across social channels. In a speech made today, Prince William said that ‘the tools that we use to congratulate each other on milestones and successes can also be used to normalise speech that is filled with bile and hate. The websites we use to stay connected can for some create profound feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.’
In many ways Which? can be an antidote to the misinformation epidemic on social media. Take our recent warning around fake reviews. Our undercover investigation, among other things, found a network of Facebook groups set up to reimburse shoppers for Amazon purchases in exchange for positive reviews and more.
We now have a renewed social (media) mission to help consumers wherever and whenever they need us. With scams on the rise, dangerous products threatening the safety of people’s homes, these are warnings we’re taking to Facebook and Twitter. Our followers then share these with thousands more people, which hopefully means their friends and family are that little bit safer too.
Keeping a look out
Lots of people use Twitter, me included, to complain to brands. Unfortunately some of these brands don’t always get your consumer rights, well, right. That’s where we can help too. If a train company’s fobbing you off, we’ll put them back on track. When a retailer says you don’t have the right to return your faulty product because it’s ‘out of warranty’, give us a shout and we’ll correct them.
In the past 12 months we’ve helped people get their dangerous appliances repaired, avoid bank transfer fraud, be refunded for secondary ticketing scams and more.
We have much further to go in our social media journey, and the landscape is constantly changing. However, we’ve got fuel in the tank and a way forward mapped out.
Before I sign off, I want to say how much I value Which? Conversation too. This community is an extremely important space. You are the eyes and ears of the problems consumers face, and you help us create invaluable content that we can share with others. We’re also able to have more in-depth conversations and build closer bonds with one another.
What’s your social media platform of choice? Or have you made a conscious decision to stay away? What do you think the value of an online community like Which? Conversation is compared to a social media platform?