Five things that Social media can’t do for you

I was sent this article from e-consultancy by the very clever Rosalind Johnson at A Different View and whilst it works, I think they could have gone a stage further.

So what can’t social media do for you and your brand?

1. Make you cool
Everyone is on social media platforms, but few have a properly joined up strategy as to why they’re doing it. There’s more chance of you getting it wrong and being caught ‘dad dancing‘ by the very people you are trying to win over. If in doubt, don’t do it at all.

2. Create great products & services
Great products comes from a balance f inspiration, striving for quality and listening to what your customers needs, wants and dreams. You can listen to what they are telling you if you’re any good on these social channels, but As Henry Ford said, ‘If we’d asked our customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse’.

3. Quash criticism
People are talking about you already, good or bad. Social media allows you to listen and respond (if you do it well), but if you’re crap at everything else, you’ll still get criticism – rest assured if you pretend you’re listenibg and do nothing, it only gets worse (doesn’t it National Rail!)

4. Provide free marketing
This is a total myth, it costs time and money to do it well. Again, if you can’t do it right, you’re better off not doing it at all. My figures proved that here.

5. Improve your customer service
You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter. The more you advertise a bad product, the faster it will fail and all the other ways of describing a disguise for bad products or service ring true. Customers have access to all the information in the world and are not afraid to tell people. If you get caught telling lies on a social media platform, your life will get worse and worse. The only way to solve it is to ‘fess up and sort the problem.

National Rail – We pretend we listen

I don’t want to pick on you, honestly. I like your train booking service.

But there is nothing and I mean nothing worse than pretending to listen, saying you’re going to act and then simply not bothering.

I gave National Rail quite a hard time a few weeks ago as they sent me an email from a ‘noreply’ email address and pretended it was from my new best friend and CEO Chris. You can read that here.

But they really impressed me with their instant response on Twitter. I had high hopes. For a moment or two I thought it may actually be worth big organisations having teams monitoring and responding in social media platforms.

But then they reverted to type and 13 days after their initial email, they sent me this.

National Rail - We pretend we listen, but we don't.
National Rail - We pretend we listen, but we don't.

Worse still, it is asking for me to be involved in telling them what I think.

I told them what I think and they ignored it.

Any business is allowed to make a mistake. We all do, but hopefully we learn from them and change something to not make them again. To come out so publicly and say you were going to change ad then not quite bothering is terrible.

I’m sure you’ll pick this article up again, like you did last time. I reckon we may get some platitudes, but this is really, really poor.


National Rail have just proved to me why they shouldn’t bother with a social media or PR team. What is the point in listening to Twitter if you don’t act ion feedback. What is the point on surveying your customers if you do nothing with what you learn from the information.

You truly are a pathetic bunch.

National Rail really don't listen at all - What a pathetic bunch
National Rail really don't listen at all - What a pathetic bunch

Why do you keep sending me emails from DONOTREPLY email addresses more than a month after you said you’d stop doing it?

National Rail – Happy to talk, not so happy to listen


I hate this. The Chief Exec of National Rail gets down there with the kids and signs his emails personally. he cares about us customers, and signs it with his first name only. He knows us so well, we’re mates, known each other for years, bezzies even. Thanks Chris, call me John, or Johnny to my friends. He even cares about whether I enjoyed the Royal Wedding.

I know, I’ll tell him I loved it.

Yes Chris, I thought it was great, best of British, just like our rail service.

But do we believe he cares? No, not really. He has sent out the clearest posible signal that he doesn’t want to listen to ANYTHING we have to say. He’s talking at us, not with us. There is no listening involved. He doesn’t care what we say. he’s sent it from a ‘noreply’ email address. I presume this means we can’t reply.

A lovely Personalised email from Chris, our friendly Chief Executive of National Rail
A lovely Personalised email from Chris, our friendly Chief Executive of National Rail

Living proof that he doesn’t care enough to listen to us, but he’s happy to hawk the new services that have been designed with us in mind.

So ask yourself if you should care enough to use his service. Well, probably you should as it’s still better than And ask yourself again, whether you ever do this with your own clients.



National Rail have responded on Twitter almost immediately, which is good and they;ve commented below. Good work team, maybe now change the email send address?

National Rail reply on Twitter
National Rail reply on Twitter

Further update

Okay, National Rail DO listen and they Do care.

Twitter can really have some power if you use it as a listening tool. How good is this?

National Rail - A minor triumph for the little man
National Rail - A minor triumph for the little man