Usually after, or sometimes during, nearly every speech I give, people ask me if they should use social media for their business. My answer is always the same:

If your business sucks, social media will help you suck faster.

What do I mean by your business sucking? And how will social media make it suck faster? 

Let’s say that you’re a retail store who sells bunny slippers. And you’ve got 5 employees, plus you, that work at your retail store of 1000 square feet.

You love bunny slippers. You are extremely passionate about bunny slippers. You’re your area’s expert on bunny slippers – big ones, little ones, ones for men, ones for women, ones for children. It’s safe to say that bunny slippers are your life.

Your 5 employees are another story. They don’t care about bunny slippers, at least not very much. They don’t care about you. And they definitely don’t care about your customers.

Whenever you’re at the store, these 5 employees are sweet as pie. They are helpful, patient and kind to everyone who comes in. They answer the phone before 3 rings and they keep your store clean.

But because you own the business, you are only at the store half of the hours your store is open. The other half of the time, 2 employees are there running your business for you.

Last week, one of your customers told you that the person you thought was your best employee simply pointed in the general direction of where bunny slippers were. Another customer told you they called your store and the phone rang 20 times until they gave up and hung up. Combine that with the fact that your best-selling bunny slipper has been out of stock for the past 60 days, and you have no idea when you’ll be getting more in.

This would be bad enough for your business. Unfortunately, you also have a Facebook business page, you promote your Yelp reviews, and you’ve just started using Google places. And you’ve been telling your customers to connect with you there.

So, your customers go to your Facebook page and they leave a comment about how horrible your employees are.

They go to your Yelp profile and they go into detail about why they will never buy a bunny slipper from you because they feel like you don’t care about them.

And they go to your Google Places page and tell the world that you’re permanently out of bunny slippers – and your employees couldn’t care less.

Now the world knows you suck because your business sucks. Social media is now helping your business suck faster.

And the best news is this: you don’t need to be using social media for your disgruntled customers to tell the world how much you suck. They can complain about you on their own social media channels – and because you’ve been avoiding social media, you don’t even have a place where your happy customers can come to your defense.

The lesson? If your business sucks, social media will help you suck faster, whether you’re using it or not.

The other lesson? If your business is awesome and you delight your customers and exceed their expectations, social media can help you be more awesome.

So, what do you think? How has your business been affected by social media? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.