Tuesday 23 June 2015

Apple's Swift U-turn

Many businesses, particularly the larger corporate giants, allow protests and calls for change to their systems and policies to fall on deaf ears, as it serves the company themselves a purpose to follow what might be otherwise viewed as an unpopular tact. When a minority complain, it is easy for these large companies to sweep the negative feedback under the rug, and continue to run their business gradually further down the path of decreasing popularity.

In the news it has been reported that Taylor Swift took to social media and wrote an open letter to Apple, regarding Apple Music’s (which launches at the end of the month) intentions to offer subscribers a three-month free trial, with artists receiving no payment during this period. Within 24 hours, an executive of Apple Music announced the decision to change policy, and pay the artists during the trial period. Here is an example of a huge company choosing not to do the easy thing and continue with what benefitted themselves, but instead chose to listen to its’ audience and make a change to keep them happy.

The point to this, is that Apple acted rapidly to address the complaints of Swift and other artists, in an effort to maintain the reputation of generosity and progressiveness that are strongly associated with their brand. Their speed of response impressively flipped a negative brand image into a positive one, restoring and enhancing the brand’s reputation effectively.

It also highlights the power of social media, as an open letter raises the awareness of a wider audience to the issue. By making the public aware of her grievance, Swift capitalised on the reach of social media to encourage a response from Apple, who would otherwise be open to further criticism.

So how is this related to smaller businesses? A few complaints here and there are easily ignored, but gradually stack up over time without much attention. It is also important to not only embrace the capacity of social media to address your audience, but also to hear their feedback. By burying our heads in the sand and not addressing customer concerns, contracts and clients could be lost once their patience has run out.

Listen to your critics, embrace their feedback, and act upon it; for the good of your brand and your future.