7/5/11

The Social Media Reprimand

Recently, we all watched as Delta Airlines took a beating in the new public view of social media through the posting of a video on YouTube by soldiers traveling on Delta who had to pay some pretty hefty baggage fees. Soon after the video was posted, it went viral being picked up by news media, consumers and competing airlines. I am sure that the competitor airlines who quickly stepped up to the plate with changes in their baggage fee policies understood that the wrath of the public eye could have been focused on any one of them.

This example is a good one in terms of the power that social media has to stir public opinion, corporate action and be considered a source for news stories. Who would have thought a few years ago that this would be possible and that it would have this potential impact? I think that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Like an iceberg, we do not yet see the entire challenge and must maneuver our companies carefully through these waters. As the captain of your ship, it is your responsibility to chart the safest course, train your staff and address any issues that arise quickly and appropriately.

Many companies are hesitant to create methods for giving public feedback, comments, problem resolution and ratings on their sites. The rule here is that it will get posted someplace. If it is invited on your site, it serves many purposes.
  1. You have the opportunity to address it in a timely fashion and resolve the issue.
  2. You also gain the opportunity to communicate better with both the happy and dissatisfied.
  3. Additionally, it engages the consumer and is quite often the differentiator that will make someone choose you over another.
  4. Customers and clients will be more likely to want to do business with companies that show attention to issues and resolution.
  5. All feedback communications will potentially be found by search engines and positively impact your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Putting feedback on your site is only the first part of the work that needs to be done. Someone has to be responsible for monitoring web activity related to your company, brand, products, services and personnel. This goes beyond what is posted to your site, requiring diligent monitoring and researching. It is difficult to be proactive, responsive and engaged if you do not know who is talking to you or about you. It is a marketing and customer service activity.
Your responses, reactions and communications must be timely, appropriate and use the right voice and message in multiple venues. Who you choose for this task, as well as the escalation process you put in place, is important.

There much opportunity to be gained through the web and a lot of icebergs to steer around. No one needs a social media reprimand like Delta received. They are not the first company and will not be the last. Social media reprimands are painful and expensive ways to learn about business on the web.

Watch our blogs for more information and resources to help you steer your company through tricky waters. Mallie Dein, our Director of Internet Initiatives, will be a regular contributor. She will also be working with many of our clients, assisting in their Social Media and Internet Initiatives.

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