If you work in the UK fenestration industry, in any part of the supply chain, it will have been almost impossible for you to have escaped watching a video in which the son of an elderly home owner confronts the salesman as to why it cost £6000 for two new PVCu doors. If you still managed to miss what all the fuss was about, you can click here to see the video and read my own thoughts on the matter.

The video went viral very quickly on Facebook, and is now approaching nearly 6 million views, 31,000 comments, all negative. The outrage was almost universal. I personally have never seen a video focused on the sales habits of our national companies take off in such a way. It’s not a good thing. It highlights an age old problem that our industry just isn’t able to shake off.

Away from the daylight robbery demonstrated in the video, there is something else to acknowledge, and that it is raw power of social media.

Ignore social media at your peril

Social media is a wondrous thing. It has made the world a much smaller, instant place to be. The marketing benefits to the glazing industry have been immeasurable. This free, constant communication medium has given our sector’s businesses one of the best marketing tools in decades.

But last week’s Zenith video also highlights the power of social media if something negative happens. Negative publicity spreads just as quickly on social media as positive publicity. Quicker in fact. I’m sure we’ve all seen videos of other things quickly get millions of views, demonstrating something bad. That’s what happened to Zenith.

A disgruntled family member of an elderly home owner ensured that his confrontation was filmed, clearly with the aim to do damage to the reputation of the company, and it worked. Nearly six million people have seen it.

Zenith will now be having to do some serious PR control if they are to avoid long term damage from this video. Up to press I haven’t seen anything from them to suggest that they are in damage control mode. It is hard to see that they won’t suffer any damage from the video. They’ve received universal condemnation from all the Facebook comments I’ve seen, and on Twitter too. I imagine lead levels may take a hit, along with orders already placed.

I’ve seen a few predictions that it could send the company under, but I don’t think it will be that extreme. They might find October and Novembers figures a lot softer than normal though.

Be prepared

You’re never really in true control of social media. The very nature of platforms like Twitter and Facebook mean that for all the promotion and marketing we do as businesses, a single person, sometimes you may not even know, can have a big influence on your business. You have to be prepared for that.

Whilst social media brings almost endless benefits, it also brings almost endless risks. In the case of the salesman from Zenith, it was a son confronting him over the price of the doors he sold. But it could quite easily have been another company and another home owner who perhaps was angry about the finished quality of an installation. Or a home owner complaining about being cold called.

It could have been any scenario with any home owner, and as an industry, especially installers, we have to remember that. It should sharpen the focus of installers to ensure that they do a good job every time. Not every fault is going be filmed and sent viral on Facebook like the Zenith video did. But it should serve as a warning to our industry that we’re not immune to people, their phones and the effects of negative press on social media.

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