MINNEAPOLIS - Social media grew to prominence with Facebook in 2004, followed by YouTube in 2005, Twitter in '06 and Pinterest in '09, and those are just four of the dozens of social media websites available. The platforms are used by consumers to type, tweet and film their likes or dislikes about one thing or another.
Netflix took a hit back in November 2011 when it planned to charge more for rentals and intended to split into two companies. Almost immediately, customers took to social media and Netlflix lost roughly 800,000 subscribers.
In February, when the Susan G Komen Foundation announced it would no longer fund women services provided by Planned Parenthood, Komen caved under the social media pressure and apologized.
And just a few months ago, Minneapolis concertgoers were so disappointed with the opening of a new club, they took to Twitter and Facebook to complain and get a refund. The Brick eventually crumbled to the pressure, gave out full refunds and is now under construction to make the venue better.
"I think we're finding that the hierarchy flattens and individuals have a louder voice," said Paul Saarinen, Director of Digital Strategy at Yamamoto.
The voice certainly becomes louder when a complaint turns into dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of complaints seemingly overnight.
Companies like Richfield based Best Buy do listen. Complaints against them are countered via its "Twitter help" or Twelp force. You tweet the problem, the company tweets the fix.
"It empowers their sales people," said Saarinen. "To answer questions online for people that may have problems or questions about products or services that they carry.
Best Buy also plans to create a social media mission control to do even more.
But does the consumer really win with its complaint? That depends on perspective.
"What we're seeing is we can predict behaviors and outcomes based upon the data that's pretty readily available," explained Saarinen.
Companies hire Yamamoto to help predict future potential purchases made by consumers.
Computer programs and companies are able to track all that you tweet, status update and search online, information which eventually gets weeded through to try and hone-in on that one product in an attempt to get you to buy.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)