British Gas scandal shows power of the socially armed individual
This is why you should have a blog.
There’s a PR disaster for British Gas brewing right now. Martin Macdonald, well-known marketing speaker and inbound marketer, had his house trashed when a flood was caused through the fault of a British Gas plumber incorrectly diagnosing a problem and fitting faulty taps. You can read the full story on his blog here.
After 3 months of unsuccessfully negotiating with British Gas, they proved themselves to be completely unconcerned with the time and financial costs of their plumbers action to one of their customers. There is a oligopoly of utilities firms that come across as profiteering swindlers – British Gas, EON, NPower, etc, that care not one hoot for their customers, happy in the knowledge that all the competition is equally as bad, and that should any challenger brand come into the market they have the huge influence and resource to squash them.
It’s a terrible example of capitalism gone wrong. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to get so big that they can control a market. The consumer should control the market through choice… and in the case of the utility companies we’ve arrived at a situation where real choice is an impossibility.
I hope that Martin’s actions make someone at British Gas sit up and think “oh oh, I hope more people don’t start doing this!”
I also hope that this makes the consumers that become aware of this kind of protest sit up and think “I’m not going to stand for being taken advantage of quietly anymore” and join the fight.
In order for the individual to have the power to fight this kind of corporate injustice there is one element that they need to cultivate. Audience.
For consumers to build audience they need to have a platform, and by far the simplest platform to set up and get cracking with is a blog. Whether it’s a WordPress.com site, or a self-hosted blog it makes little difference, but what is key is that there is a constant stream of content going up their that attracts those online that share views, ideas or beliefs with the blogger.
By building a strong platform and audience individuals will have the power to get true visibility when it comes to dealing with big brands that they feel are trying to take advantage of them. The little man is no longer little, and the big brand is no longer untouchable.
It’s not just a PR disaster for these brands that comes from a decisive campaign by an angry customer. An example of this has been my own fight with Vodafone, following a terrible experience at the end of last year, the posts that I wrote are now ranking in Google for half their first page for the keyword ‘Vodafone Business Account’. That will definitely be having an effect on their bottom line.
Get a blog
Build an audience
Don’t accept being taken advantage of… ever.