The graying of social media an article posted today by mediapost.com  revealed  a new survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The survey showcased a few interesting facts, but overall the report did not offer any startling insights.  No big surprise, more Americans than ever are online and social media is now a daily lifestyle habit, but what I found interesting was only email and search engines are used more frequently.

The survey’s word cloud disclosed comments like good, awesome, excellent, interesting, fun, helpful, and complaining to describe the online experience.   Yes, 20% were complaining!

I see complaining as a huge marketing opportunity.  When consumers complain they usually have a reason, yes and I use the term usually loosely, but complaining about products or services; and in this case online experiences, may lead to new initiatives, new employee programs, and maybe new products or services.

Maybe the next survey could be on how to handle complaining. Does engagement, listening and interaction generate a stronger bond between brand and consumer? Does it lead to new initiatives?  Will it improve or change employee interactions?

What I’ve learned over the years in PR if a complaint is handled swiftly, honestly and resolved satisfactorily most of the time a loss of business is adverted.  I’m thinking the same holds true for online complaints as well.

Maybe the next survey will speak to additional qualitative assets taking complaining to a whole new level.