So, you don’t think that YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or any of the other social media web tools are beneficial to your business? Fair enough. Every business has to evaluate these tools for themselves and if they can’t find a way to use them to further their business goals or if they aren’t willing to commit the time and resources needed to learn and use the tools effectively, they should probably put their efforts into something else. However, what if these tools are used by others to affect your business?
Before social media sites like YouTube, the Average Man had little public recourse when he became the victim of a business’s Customer No-Service. United Airlines learned about the power of social media (YouTube.com in particular) and the consequences of bad service the hard way.
Dave Carroll spent a great deal of time trying to get United Airlines to fix an expensive Taylor guitar that their baggage handlers had broken. He created a video (several, actually) about his experience and posted it on YouTube. The last time I checked, the video was viewed 6.8 million times and has created a public relations nightmare for United (and a public relations boon for Taylor guitars). Read the full story here.
What are people saying about your company on social media sites? Do you even check? How will you respond to criticism (or praise)? It only takes one employee to tick-off the wrong customer and you could become a laughing stock. United could have avoided their fate by admitting responsibility and coughing-up a measly $3500 to replace the guitar. How much damage has been done to their reputation?
United’s fate was self inflicted and deserved (in my opinion), but what if your company is being talked about on social media sites in maliciously unflattering terms based on false information or outright lies? Getting flamed can have serious repercussions – do you have a plan in place to deal with it?
How could this happen to you? Rumors could easily be started by [ex-]employees, [ex-]vendors, competitors, political opponents or anyone else with an axe to grid, real or imagined. Knowing how to respond quickly, professionally and honestly could save the good, hard-earned reputation of your business from cyber-bullies.
It used to be hard for the little guy to take a serious swipe at a business or private individual. Think back to the 80’s – what could you do, really? Print and post flyers? Phone all your friends? Whoopity-do. If you had really gotten the shaft perhaps you’d get on local TV. Now any teen with a video phone can shoot and post a video in minutes. True, it would need to be pretty compelling to get everyone’s attention (after all, few of us have the talent of a Dave Carroll) and yet it happens every week. Be prepared and be alert.