Community Management, Digital Marketing, Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Strategy, PR 20, Social Media Marketing, Social Media Monitoring

A Social Media Gun to the Head

I’ll admit it. I fish on Twitter.

Sometimes, I’ll talk about a brand just to see if they’re listening. Too often, they’re not.

Or, maybe they’re listening, but not responding.

Some companies seem to have a policy of responding to positive comments, but not responding to negative comments. I think this falls into the “we don’t want to make it worse” school of social media interaction. I’ve heard t his explained with “if we answer, it legitimizes the complaint.” And while I understand that concept historically, I’m not sure it works today. An unfortunate reality of social media is that we’ve jumped the shark of jurisprudence. People, causes, companies are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

How many times do you see tweets along the lines of “hey, maybe we’re all jumping to conclusions here, and (company) isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s all a misunderstanding.” I’ve seen this somewhere between zero and one times. It’s much more exhilarating for people to get caught up in the tsunami of real-time public opinion than to be the voice of dissent (or the voice of decent, for that matter).

Consequently, is corporate silence on Twitter (and elsewhere in social media) cagey, safe, or foolish?

social media ransom note 300x235 A Social Media Gun to the Head

Brand-jacked by Social Media

Last week, United Airlines finally succumbed to massive social media pressure, and donated $3,000 to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in the name of pissed-off customer and YouTube sensation Dave Carroll. This after the video made by Carroll as a result of his guitar being broken by United baggage handlers, had been viewed more than 3 million times, and been mentioned on CNN, CBS and Oprah.

Am I glad Carroll was compensated by the airline? I guess. But what I don’t appreciate is the fact that the guitar was broken a year ago. Carroll took the opportunity to create a clever video about it, and did so admittedly to help his own flagging music career.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Carroll told the Chicago Tribune. His Web site, DaveCarrollMusic.com, went from fewer than 50 hits Monday to 50,000 hits Thursday. “It’s just incredible, considering where my career was at last week,” said Carroll.

Is it justice that Dave Carroll was able to build his career – at least ephemerally – on the back of United’s reputation?

I certainly believe United would have been A LOT better off dealing with this immediately and turning a negative into a positive by co-opting Carroll and his story. Consider the career-based motives of Mr. Carroll, I suspect he’d have been happy to create a positive video about United, had the $$$ and exposure been sufficient.

Is the Customer Always Right?

I always support the notion that companies should be listening at all times to the social media conversation, and be prepared to respond immediately to the first hint of crisis.

But, are we entering an age where every consumer with a video camera or a sizable Twitter following can hold companies for ransom? Will we see customer service deficiencies blown out of proportion (or even faked) in an effort to extort “make good” concessions from brands? Although massively slow to react, I love the fact that United made a charitable donation to satiate Carroll, refusing to enrich him personally (at least financially) for his stunt.

Already, Bing Futch made a “copycat” video called “Northwest breaks dulcimers” and almost instantly received cash a flight voucher for repairs from Northwest Airlines.

(Note: Bing Futch immediately commented (see below) on this post, to point out that he did not receive cash from Northwest, but rather a flight voucher. Thanks to Bing for clarifying).

My fear in all this is that it will paradoxically have a chilling effect on brands engaging in social media, as they become more and more concerned about the veracity of claims. Carroll may have got his, but I’m not sure anyone will benefit but him. Certainly not United, and I doubt he’ll help social media customer service as a whole.

I won’t be buying his album. Will you?

(Ransom note from the Ransom Note Generator)

  • http://www.makeseriously.com/ Josh

    It’s going to be a big problem if a customer can do tens of thousands in damage to a company because he was to lazy to take them to court to get payment for damage to his guitar. I wouldn’t be surprised if this resulted in a new set of libel/defamation laws that address the medium.
    .-= Josh´s last blog ..Logic. =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Josh – Thanks so much for the comment. Interesting concept on libel/defamation law. I can see that happening, definitely.

      I’m not sure the burden to the consumer should be a court case, but hopefully there’s a happy medium between court, being ignored by brands, and holding brands hostage in social media.

  • http://www.makeseriously.com Josh

    It’s going to be a big problem if a customer can do tens of thousands in damage to a company because he was to lazy to take them to court to get payment for damage to his guitar. I wouldn’t be surprised if this resulted in a new set of libel/defamation laws that address the medium.
    .-= Josh´s last blog ..Logic. =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Josh – Thanks so much for the comment. Interesting concept on libel/defamation law. I can see that happening, definitely.

      I’m not sure the burden to the consumer should be a court case, but hopefully there’s a happy medium between court, being ignored by brands, and holding brands hostage in social media.

  • http://www.jeffersonstolarship.com/ Jeff Stolarcyk

    When I went to see Harry Potter over the weekend, the woman sitting behind me complained to her husband several times that the theater was too crowded and that she didn’t like her seat. Before the trailers even started, they’d left the theater after her husband promised that he’d “get their money back if I complain loud enough.”

    The way that people interact with brands online reminds me of that couple. Like you, I’ve complained about a brand in part just to gauge the response.

    I’m not sure whether disgruntled entitlement on the part of customers is worse than what I perceive as brands routinely ignoring social users that aren’t “influencers,” but pampering the ones that are. “We’re responsive to some concerns,” the message seems to read, “but not yours.” Of course, that’s a bit of an ouroboros.

    I do think that brands in the social space should be responsive to complaints, just to show the user that they’re listening (which is probably one of the things the plaintiff here is looking for, anyway). Not with a handout or with free stuff, but with an apology or acknowledgment and a non-rote answer to their question or problem.
    .-= Jeff Stolarcyk´s last blog ..Cover Your Ears For A Second =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I agree Jeff. I would hope that brands learn to ACKNOWLEDGE issues in social media immediately, and then take the issue offline to hopefully resolve it in a way that satisfies both parties.

  • http://www.jeffersonstolarship.com Jeff Stolarcyk

    When I went to see Harry Potter over the weekend, the woman sitting behind me complained to her husband several times that the theater was too crowded and that she didn’t like her seat. Before the trailers even started, they’d left the theater after her husband promised that he’d “get their money back if I complain loud enough.”

    The way that people interact with brands online reminds me of that couple. Like you, I’ve complained about a brand in part just to gauge the response.

    I’m not sure whether disgruntled entitlement on the part of customers is worse than what I perceive as brands routinely ignoring social users that aren’t “influencers,” but pampering the ones that are. “We’re responsive to some concerns,” the message seems to read, “but not yours.” Of course, that’s a bit of an ouroboros.

    I do think that brands in the social space should be responsive to complaints, just to show the user that they’re listening (which is probably one of the things the plaintiff here is looking for, anyway). Not with a handout or with free stuff, but with an apology or acknowledgment and a non-rote answer to their question or problem.
    .-= Jeff Stolarcyk´s last blog ..Cover Your Ears For A Second =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      I agree Jeff. I would hope that brands learn to ACKNOWLEDGE issues in social media immediately, and then take the issue offline to hopefully resolve it in a way that satisfies both parties.

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  • http://www.networkedinsights.com/ Alex Fortney

    it definitely gives some brands pause – we find that prospects and clients structured for traditional marketing frequently have to be convinced that engaging in social media is a good idea. And much of their fear and trepidation is due to the horror stories. Companies in a defensive posture (I must defend my turf, my brand, my reputation, my processes) always need the most encouragement, I think because they’re primarily concerned about not losing share. It’s a corporate culture thing and those wheels of change turn slowly.

    Alex Fortney
    Networked Insights
    @alexfortney
    .-= Alex Fortney´s last blog ..Make Sense of Internet Chatter About Brands =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Alex – Excellent insight here on the difference between defensive and offensive postures. You should write that up as a blog post. I’d be happy to run it as a guest post here at C&C.; I think you’re really on to something there.

      Meanwhile, I find that those that play defense are the ones that get burned the worst. Their silence is deafening.

      • http://www.networkedinsights.com/ Alex Fortney

        Thanks Jason, I’ll take you up on the offer and write that up. I agree with you that doing nothing is not the answer. But it’s a challenge for brands, they’ve been building a brand for a long time (sometimes for generations!) and it’s easy for us in the social media community to just assume that shifting gears should be easy for them.

        The reality is that successful brands have gobs of money, time, training etc. invested in their existing products, processes and practices. They’re not going to trade that in for the latest shiny, new object without some serious consideration and deliberation.

        I’ll send you that post!

        Thanks,
        Alex
        .-= Alex Fortney´s last blog ..Make Sense of Internet Chatter About Brands =-.

  • http://www.networkedinsights.com Alex Fortney

    it definitely gives some brands pause – we find that prospects and clients structured for traditional marketing frequently have to be convinced that engaging in social media is a good idea. And much of their fear and trepidation is due to the horror stories. Companies in a defensive posture (I must defend my turf, my brand, my reputation, my processes) always need the most encouragement, I think because they’re primarily concerned about not losing share. It’s a corporate culture thing and those wheels of change turn slowly.

    Alex Fortney
    Networked Insights
    @alexfortney
    .-= Alex Fortney´s last blog ..Make Sense of Internet Chatter About Brands =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Alex – Excellent insight here on the difference between defensive and offensive postures. You should write that up as a blog post. I’d be happy to run it as a guest post here at C&C. I think you’re really on to something there.

      Meanwhile, I find that those that play defense are the ones that get burned the worst. Their silence is deafening.

      • http://www.networkedinsights.com Alex Fortney

        Thanks Jason, I’ll take you up on the offer and write that up. I agree with you that doing nothing is not the answer. But it’s a challenge for brands, they’ve been building a brand for a long time (sometimes for generations!) and it’s easy for us in the social media community to just assume that shifting gears should be easy for them.

        The reality is that successful brands have gobs of money, time, training etc. invested in their existing products, processes and practices. They’re not going to trade that in for the latest shiny, new object without some serious consideration and deliberation.

        I’ll send you that post!

        Thanks,
        Alex
        .-= Alex Fortney´s last blog ..Make Sense of Internet Chatter About Brands =-.

  • http://BingFutch.com/ Bing Futch

    Just wanted to make a correction – I didn’t receive cash for repairs to the dulcimer, rather a $200 voucher for future flight on Delta/Northwest. Northwest adamantly refused to pay for the damage, yet were concerned about my perception of the entire event.

    Whereas I see your point about a rash of claims by people who feel wronged, I feel that large companies have been making the customer jump through hoops for far too long when they’ve been wronged. Maybe Carroll’s aim was to get a career boost. My aim was to be repaid for damages that weren’t my fault. If social media gives the consumer extra leverage for justice, what’s wrong with that? Maybe it will cause companies to review their customer service policies.

    Cheers,

    Bing Futch

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Bing -

      Sincere thanks for the comment. I appreciate you taking the time to correct me on the post, and of course your perspective on this is incredibly relevant and valuable.

      No question that most companies don’t make it easy for consumers to get help. Whether that’s intentional (insurance companies) or unintentional bureaucratic nonsense, the end result for the customer is the same – unsatisfactory.

      I don’t blame you at all. In fact, I have certainly considered doing a little social media retribution myself at times, and if I was better at video I probably would have done so.

      Please recognize that I don’t have any issue with your ability to get what rightfully was coming to you (or at least something) by whatever means necessary. You’re not at fault here.

      But, as a social media consultant that works with a lot of brands, my concern is people that don’t have your sensibilities using social media as a unilateral weapon against companies. That could have the result (in theory) of brands ignoring social media conversation entirely in the “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” school of thinking.

      Like you, I hope that won’t happen. I hope companies will embrace social CRM universally, and will realize that in many ways social media isn’t marketing 2.0, it’s customer service 2.0. However, it won’t take too many bad apples to screw that up. I’m just waiting for the first “I found a thumb in my Coke” YouTube video.

      Thus, I hope that consumers will use social media smack-downs as a last resort, not a first salvo. Tweeting your complaint is one thing, multi-media is another. At least to me. Or maybe I’m making a distinction where none exists?

      • Bing Futch

        Thanks for your reply, Jason, and recognition. Yes, it would be truly unfortunate if this became a trend for trend’s sake. One, because it would kill legitimacy for folks who want to exercise their voices via social media and two, perhaps it *would* scare companies away from participating.

        That, in itself, is a sticky wicket, as many folks on social media platforms like Twitter don’t necessarily want to deal with the marketing, however subtle, of big corporations. They’d much prefer the village network concept of people creating better “relationship ratios” with each other. If the big companies can, as you suggested, use the medium as customer service 2.0, that would be more widely welcomed.

        Has the immediacy of our collective networks amplified the best and the worst of human nature? I think it has – and though the media coverage of the first two airline settlements via the internet has faded, there appears to be lasting backlash against at least United. As much as it’s important for social media to remain a communication tool for expression, I believe it’s also our responsibility to follow-through and salve wounds wherever possible; create an environment of closure.

        As a former theme park employee I can say with certainty that people are more apt to visit Guest Relations with complaints rather than praise.

  • http://BingFutch.com Bing Futch

    Just wanted to make a correction – I didn’t receive cash for repairs to the dulcimer, rather a $200 voucher for future flight on Delta/Northwest. Northwest adamantly refused to pay for the damage, yet were concerned about my perception of the entire event.

    Whereas I see your point about a rash of claims by people who feel wronged, I feel that large companies have been making the customer jump through hoops for far too long when they’ve been wronged. Maybe Carroll’s aim was to get a career boost. My aim was to be repaid for damages that weren’t my fault. If social media gives the consumer extra leverage for justice, what’s wrong with that? Maybe it will cause companies to review their customer service policies.

    Cheers,

    Bing Futch

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Bing -

      Sincere thanks for the comment. I appreciate you taking the time to correct me on the post, and of course your perspective on this is incredibly relevant and valuable.

      No question that most companies don’t make it easy for consumers to get help. Whether that’s intentional (insurance companies) or unintentional bureaucratic nonsense, the end result for the customer is the same – unsatisfactory.

      I don’t blame you at all. In fact, I have certainly considered doing a little social media retribution myself at times, and if I was better at video I probably would have done so.

      Please recognize that I don’t have any issue with your ability to get what rightfully was coming to you (or at least something) by whatever means necessary. You’re not at fault here.

      But, as a social media consultant that works with a lot of brands, my concern is people that don’t have your sensibilities using social media as a unilateral weapon against companies. That could have the result (in theory) of brands ignoring social media conversation entirely in the “damned if we do, damned if we don’t” school of thinking.

      Like you, I hope that won’t happen. I hope companies will embrace social CRM universally, and will realize that in many ways social media isn’t marketing 2.0, it’s customer service 2.0. However, it won’t take too many bad apples to screw that up. I’m just waiting for the first “I found a thumb in my Coke” YouTube video.

      Thus, I hope that consumers will use social media smack-downs as a last resort, not a first salvo. Tweeting your complaint is one thing, multi-media is another. At least to me. Or maybe I’m making a distinction where none exists?

      • Bing Futch

        Thanks for your reply, Jason, and recognition. Yes, it would be truly unfortunate if this became a trend for trend’s sake. One, because it would kill legitimacy for folks who want to exercise their voices via social media and two, perhaps it *would* scare companies away from participating.

        That, in itself, is a sticky wicket, as many folks on social media platforms like Twitter don’t necessarily want to deal with the marketing, however subtle, of big corporations. They’d much prefer the village network concept of people creating better “relationship ratios” with each other. If the big companies can, as you suggested, use the medium as customer service 2.0, that would be more widely welcomed.

        Has the immediacy of our collective networks amplified the best and the worst of human nature? I think it has – and though the media coverage of the first two airline settlements via the internet has faded, there appears to be lasting backlash against at least United. As much as it’s important for social media to remain a communication tool for expression, I believe it’s also our responsibility to follow-through and salve wounds wherever possible; create an environment of closure.

        As a former theme park employee I can say with certainty that people are more apt to visit Guest Relations with complaints rather than praise.

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  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    Sadly I think we’ll see more consumers/customers using/abusing social media to take up crusades (tad dramatic – sorry!). It’s the natural progression from us making it easy to put people in the spotlight.

    The key point is that perception of the complaint is seen properly by the public. What you see with things like United Airlines and the recent Best Buy CMO argument (which I discuss in my last post) is that often the complaint was either too late, or had been dealt with satisfactorily in-store.

    To then open it up afterward seems to be more a personal mission to draw attention to yourself, as opposed to the original problem.

    I may be too cynical here, but it’s how it can be perceived. No wonder brands are scared of social media when we often invite them in just to be bullied.
    .-= Danny Brown´s last blog ..Are You Abusing Your Social Media Voice? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Thanks so much for the comment Danny. I agree that this is a very fine line we’re treading. As a consumer, I want to see customers treated right, and if social media helps make that happen, great. But, I think social media’s viral nature at times makes it less than a fair fight.

      Ultimately, it’s going to come down to consumers using their newfound power for good rather than for evil, and only taking companies to task when needed, not as a blood sport. Otherwise, you’re 100% right, companies are going to flee social media. And they won’t be back.

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    Sadly I think we’ll see more consumers/customers using/abusing social media to take up crusades (tad dramatic – sorry!). It’s the natural progression from us making it easy to put people in the spotlight.

    The key point is that perception of the complaint is seen properly by the public. What you see with things like United Airlines and the recent Best Buy CMO argument (which I discuss in my last post) is that often the complaint was either too late, or had been dealt with satisfactorily in-store.

    To then open it up afterward seems to be more a personal mission to draw attention to yourself, as opposed to the original problem.

    I may be too cynical here, but it’s how it can be perceived. No wonder brands are scared of social media when we often invite them in just to be bullied.
    .-= Danny Brown´s last blog ..Are You Abusing Your Social Media Voice? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Thanks so much for the comment Danny. I agree that this is a very fine line we’re treading. As a consumer, I want to see customers treated right, and if social media helps make that happen, great. But, I think social media’s viral nature at times makes it less than a fair fight.

      Ultimately, it’s going to come down to consumers using their newfound power for good rather than for evil, and only taking companies to task when needed, not as a blood sport. Otherwise, you’re 100% right, companies are going to flee social media. And they won’t be back.

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  • http://www.igomogul.com/blog iGoMogul

    “Consider the career-based motives of Mr. Carroll, I suspect he’d have been happy to create a positive video about United, had the $$$ and exposure been sufficient.”

    But do you think there was any way for United to actually guarantee that exposure? It seems people are a lot more interested in seeing negative responses to brands than positive ones. How often do we see viral videos praising a brand?

    Maybe brands should start paying / compensating for positive UGC rather than compensating them after the fact…

    Just some thoughts…

    Sara @ iGoMogul

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Sara – Love that notion of brands proactively rewarding positive UGC. Fantastic idea. No question we like the car crash (as a society) better than the car.

  • http://www.igomogul.com/blog iGoMogul

    “Consider the career-based motives of Mr. Carroll, I suspect he’d have been happy to create a positive video about United, had the $$$ and exposure been sufficient.”

    But do you think there was any way for United to actually guarantee that exposure? It seems people are a lot more interested in seeing negative responses to brands than positive ones. How often do we see viral videos praising a brand?

    Maybe brands should start paying / compensating for positive UGC rather than compensating them after the fact…

    Just some thoughts…

    Sara @ iGoMogul

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Sara – Love that notion of brands proactively rewarding positive UGC. Fantastic idea. No question we like the car crash (as a society) better than the car.

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  • http://www.nadinebonner.com/ Nadine Bonner

    I think I agree with Bing that customers have felt powerless in the face of poor customer service for so long that they are jumping on social media to regain some sense of empowerment.

    I also agree that if a company is going to play in the social media park, they have to get in the game. That is, I think they have to respond. And not only in crisis situations.

    Last week I blogged about the Philadelphia Phillies at http://awriterrambles.blogspot.com. The Phils are on Facebook and Twitter posting away, but they never respond to fans’ posts on either outlet. Fans were recently annoyed about a recent acquisition, and the team kept posting about how great this deal was, ignoring the fans’ reaction.

    Now, of course the team is and will go ahead and do when they think is best, whatever the fans think. But I think if you have a social media staff person, they need to respond now and then, not just keep pumping out the company line.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Phillies need to get with the program. If they are going to build and sustain social media outposts, it MUST be a two-way street. Otherwise, it’s just a link dump.

      As I said in an older post, social media is ping pong, not archery.

      However, I think there’s a difference between the Phillies, who are ostensibly active in social media (yet not responsive to negativity) and United, who are not active in any meaningful way. To me, United is worse?

  • http://orange-envelopes.com/blog/ John Heaney

    I believe there are a couple of significant errors dealing with Dave Carroll’s intentions. First, the reason that the video didn’t premiere until nearly a year after United broke his guitar (a contention that they never denied) was that United took 9 months to issue their final decree denying any restitution. Second, Carroll did not create the video to advance his music career but to illuminate United’s neglect and casual indifference. The viral success of the video and Carroll’s bookings was an unintended consequence, not his primary goal. In fact, one of the reasons for the video’s success is its authenticity. Carroll’s humor, facile storytelling and hook-laden tune are what made his video a success, not a gun to United’s head. United has no one to blame but themselves for their execrable behavior and anemic response.
    .-= John Heaney´s last blog ..What if The Four Seasons Ran Your Business? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Hi John. Thanks very much for the comment. Much appreciated.

      It seems to me that if Dave Carroll had nine months worth of hassle, he could have pulled the trigger on the video at any point during that time to get the wheels of justice turning a little more quickly at United.

      I’m not suggesting – and hopefully it doesn’t read that way – that Dave was solely career-minded in his video. He was wronged by United, clearly. And I agree with you that the video is authentic and genuine. It’s not a Hollywood production. But, I reject the notion that the whole thing was purely a happy accident.

      True, United botched the job.

      True, consumers can do whatever they want in response.

      I just hope the punishment fits the crime, and that the motives are appropriate. They may very well have been in Dave Caroll’s case. Sounds like Bing was shooting straight too. But, if this yields a flood of “copy cat” videos and such, every brand is going to fall silent in social media. And then nobody wins.

      • http://orange-envelopes.com/blog/ John Heaney

        The reason this video was so effective was largely due to United’s cultural and structural impediments to providing thoughtful, caring and responsive customer service.

        There are several indicators that support this claim: 1) the behavior of the United baggage handling crew 2) the disinterest of the United staff when informed of the tarmac terror 3) the initial response from United’s customer service staff 4) the protracted resolution period 5) the ultimate No response 6) United’s near total absence from any social media channels.

        It’s apparent to anyone listening to Dave’s story (or virtually anyone who has flown United regularly) that United’s commitment to customer service is purely lip service.

        This is what Dave Carroll was bringing to the public’s attention, not that he could not get his guitar fixed. He’d already fixed his guitar and rebuked offers from United to compensate him after the fact. This was about highlighting and embarrassing United because of their execrable behavior.

        If United were active in social media channels and had a history of quick response, reasoned and appropriate solutions and ongoing engagement, Dave’s video may never have gained any traction. The video worked precisely because of United’s SM neglect and inability to respond quickly and forcefully. They got what they deserved.

  • http://www.nadinebonner.com Nadine Bonner

    I think I agree with Bing that customers have felt powerless in the face of poor customer service for so long that they are jumping on social media to regain some sense of empowerment.

    I also agree that if a company is going to play in the social media park, they have to get in the game. That is, I think they have to respond. And not only in crisis situations.

    Last week I blogged about the Philadelphia Phillies at http://awriterrambles.blogspot.com. The Phils are on Facebook and Twitter posting away, but they never respond to fans’ posts on either outlet. Fans were recently annoyed about a recent acquisition, and the team kept posting about how great this deal was, ignoring the fans’ reaction.

    Now, of course the team is and will go ahead and do when they think is best, whatever the fans think. But I think if you have a social media staff person, they need to respond now and then, not just keep pumping out the company line.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Phillies need to get with the program. If they are going to build and sustain social media outposts, it MUST be a two-way street. Otherwise, it’s just a link dump.

      As I said in an older post, social media is ping pong, not archery.

      However, I think there’s a difference between the Phillies, who are ostensibly active in social media (yet not responsive to negativity) and United, who are not active in any meaningful way. To me, United is worse?

  • http://orange-envelopes.com/blog/ John Heaney

    I believe there are a couple of significant errors dealing with Dave Carroll’s intentions. First, the reason that the video didn’t premiere until nearly a year after United broke his guitar (a contention that they never denied) was that United took 9 months to issue their final decree denying any restitution. Second, Carroll did not create the video to advance his music career but to illuminate United’s neglect and casual indifference. The viral success of the video and Carroll’s bookings was an unintended consequence, not his primary goal. In fact, one of the reasons for the video’s success is its authenticity. Carroll’s humor, facile storytelling and hook-laden tune are what made his video a success, not a gun to United’s head. United has no one to blame but themselves for their execrable behavior and anemic response.
    .-= John Heaney´s last blog ..What if The Four Seasons Ran Your Business? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Hi John. Thanks very much for the comment. Much appreciated.

      It seems to me that if Dave Carroll had nine months worth of hassle, he could have pulled the trigger on the video at any point during that time to get the wheels of justice turning a little more quickly at United.

      I’m not suggesting – and hopefully it doesn’t read that way – that Dave was solely career-minded in his video. He was wronged by United, clearly. And I agree with you that the video is authentic and genuine. It’s not a Hollywood production. But, I reject the notion that the whole thing was purely a happy accident.

      True, United botched the job.

      True, consumers can do whatever they want in response.

      I just hope the punishment fits the crime, and that the motives are appropriate. They may very well have been in Dave Caroll’s case. Sounds like Bing was shooting straight too. But, if this yields a flood of “copy cat” videos and such, every brand is going to fall silent in social media. And then nobody wins.

      • http://orange-envelopes.com/blog/ John Heaney

        The reason this video was so effective was largely due to United’s cultural and structural impediments to providing thoughtful, caring and responsive customer service.

        There are several indicators that support this claim: 1) the behavior of the United baggage handling crew 2) the disinterest of the United staff when informed of the tarmac terror 3) the initial response from United’s customer service staff 4) the protracted resolution period 5) the ultimate No response 6) United’s near total absence from any social media channels.

        It’s apparent to anyone listening to Dave’s story (or virtually anyone who has flown United regularly) that United’s commitment to customer service is purely lip service.

        This is what Dave Carroll was bringing to the public’s attention, not that he could not get his guitar fixed. He’d already fixed his guitar and rebuked offers from United to compensate him after the fact. This was about highlighting and embarrassing United because of their execrable behavior.

        If United were active in social media channels and had a history of quick response, reasoned and appropriate solutions and ongoing engagement, Dave’s video may never have gained any traction. The video worked precisely because of United’s SM neglect and inability to respond quickly and forcefully. They got what they deserved.

  • http://www.serengeticommunications.com/ bethharte

    WOW! That’s my immediate response. I first came across Dave Carroll’s video on Alan Wolk’s blog (his post: Don’t Suck) and was amazed at what United had done (okay, well not really). But, to find out that it was something that happened over a year ago stuns me…and if he did put together the video to further his career, I just think that’s a jerk move that tarnishes social media and his credibility (If he even cares about that. Some folks just want the fame/fortune.).

    That said, I just wrote a post about a consumer experience I recently had with a local museum. I wasn’t looking to tarnish their brand (I gave them a great, but not excellent review), but to let them know it’s the little things that they need to be aware of and fix so that visitors can have a great/excellent experience each and every time. [Your post makes me feel a little bit guilty...okay, not really. ;-) ]

    On the flip side, during BlogPotomac my Dell laptop decided to give me the blue screen of death during the conference. I was frazzled to say the least. Immediately people were like “go on Twitter, get Richard!” And I thought…no, I am not going to do that. I called customer service instead and they fixed my laptop in a jiffy. Why make a fuss online? It’s not always the best course of action.

    The difference between these two consumer experiences? I have a relationship with Richard at Dell and I didn’t want to hassle him with something I knew customer support could fix (even though he was more than happy to help, which I found out later because someone who saw me stressing out tweeted him on my behalf). I don’t have a relationship with the local museum…

    But am I the average consumer? No. I analyze my personal consumer experiences as a marketer.

    We can’t expect the average consumer (i.e. non-marketers) to not use social media to their advantage. But those who do get it might want to think twice about participating “in the tsunami of real-time public opinion” next time something happens. Or, at the least, put on our “journalist” hats and do some fact checking before diving into the tsunami.

    Thanks for the eye-opener Jason, it’s timely and thought provoking.

    Beth Harte
    Community Manager, MarketingProfs
    @bethharte

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I love your examples Beth. Holding the line on contacting Richard directly is the exact right response, in my opinion. That’s what troubles me about the Best Buy imbroglio with Doug Meacham. He used social media to over-elevate an issue, and that’s what scares brands.

      On the museum, I see this all the time. Companies (and non-profits most of all) encourage people to review them, but as soon as one of those reviews is less then stellar, they freak out. Companies need to realize that 100% positive reviews are neither believable nor helpful.

      Remember, that social media is the ultimate canary in the coal mine. The early warning detection system for something actually amiss in your organization. It’s not a cheerleading section.

  • http://www.marketingprofs.com Beth Harte

    WOW! That’s my immediate response. I first came across Dave Carroll’s video on Alan Wolk’s blog (his post: Don’t Suck) and was amazed at what United had done (okay, well not really). But, to find out that it was something that happened over a year ago stuns me…and if he did put together the video to further his career, I just think that’s a jerk move that tarnishes social media and his credibility (If he even cares about that. Some folks just want the fame/fortune.).

    That said, I just wrote a post about a consumer experience I recently had with a local museum. I wasn’t looking to tarnish their brand (I gave them a great, but not excellent review), but to let them know it’s the little things that they need to be aware of and fix so that visitors can have a great/excellent experience each and every time. [Your post makes me feel a little bit guilty...okay, not really. ;-) ]

    On the flip side, during BlogPotomac my Dell laptop decided to give me the blue screen of death during the conference. I was frazzled to say the least. Immediately people were like “go on Twitter, get Richard!” And I thought…no, I am not going to do that. I called customer service instead and they fixed my laptop in a jiffy. Why make a fuss online? It’s not always the best course of action.

    The difference between these two consumer experiences? I have a relationship with Richard at Dell and I didn’t want to hassle him with something I knew customer support could fix (even though he was more than happy to help, which I found out later because someone who saw me stressing out tweeted him on my behalf). I don’t have a relationship with the local museum…

    But am I the average consumer? No. I analyze my personal consumer experiences as a marketer.

    We can’t expect the average consumer (i.e. non-marketers) to not use social media to their advantage. But those who do get it might want to think twice about participating “in the tsunami of real-time public opinion” next time something happens. Or, at the least, put on our “journalist” hats and do some fact checking before diving into the tsunami.

    Thanks for the eye-opener Jason, it’s timely and thought provoking.

    Beth Harte
    Community Manager, MarketingProfs
    @bethharte

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      I love your examples Beth. Holding the line on contacting Richard directly is the exact right response, in my opinion. That’s what troubles me about the Best Buy imbroglio with Doug Meacham. He used social media to over-elevate an issue, and that’s what scares brands.

      On the museum, I see this all the time. Companies (and non-profits most of all) encourage people to review them, but as soon as one of those reviews is less then stellar, they freak out. Companies need to realize that 100% positive reviews are neither believable nor helpful.

      Remember, that social media is the ultimate canary in the coal mine. The early warning detection system for something actually amiss in your organization. It’s not a cheerleading section.

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  • http://katiecharland.wordpress.com/ Katie Charland

    I know everyone says that the beauty of social media is that it is giving the consumer a voice in what used to be a one-way conversation – business to consumer. However, social media is really the turf of the consumer and companies are never going to have the home court advantage. I wonder had United, Starbucks or any of the others, handled the situation appropriately, would the consumer really have let them have their say? After all, there are millions of consumers on twitter and only a few people tweeting per company. I’m not necessarily defending the corporations – social media is a medium that must become part of communication strategies whether they like it or not. I’m merely wondering if social media users are getting on a bit of a power trip in a way that could be detrimental to the two-way conversation that is so valued in social media.
    .-= Katie Charland´s last blog ..“You found out over Facebook?” =-.

  • http://katiecharland.wordpress.com Katie Charland

    I know everyone says that the beauty of social media is that it is giving the consumer a voice in what used to be a one-way conversation – business to consumer. However, social media is really the turf of the consumer and companies are never going to have the home court advantage. I wonder had United, Starbucks or any of the others, handled the situation appropriately, would the consumer really have let them have their say? After all, there are millions of consumers on twitter and only a few people tweeting per company. I’m not necessarily defending the corporations – social media is a medium that must become part of communication strategies whether they like it or not. I’m merely wondering if social media users are getting on a bit of a power trip in a way that could be detrimental to the two-way conversation that is so valued in social media.
    .-= Katie Charland´s last blog ..“You found out over Facebook?” =-.

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  • http://www.notwillsmith.com/ William Smith

    Funny, but not once did I think about Carroll holding United for ransom while I was watching that video. If they did all the things he claim they did, they definitely deserved that video imo.

    Totally agree with taking the conversation offline though.

    For some good examples of letting the community defend you, check out Dell’s Social Media for Small Business page on Facebook. Their discussion forums are full of people posting very negative comments about Dell, and for the most part their fans defend them in droves.

  • http://www.notwillsmith.com William Smith

    Funny, but not once did I think about Carroll holding United for ransom while I was watching that video. If they did all the things he claim they did, they definitely deserved that video imo.

    Totally agree with taking the conversation offline though.

    For some good examples of letting the community defend you, check out Dell’s Social Media for Small Business page on Facebook. Their discussion forums are full of people posting very negative comments about Dell, and for the most part their fans defend them in droves.

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  • http://mayank.name/ Mayank Dhingra

    Interesting Post.

    Incidentally I got to know about the United Airlines incident a couple of hours back only and saw how Dave cleverly used Social Media to claim compensation with the video(s) but to be honest It doesn’t seem like a clear cut case of brandjacking, as firstly his complaint was valid(airlines acknowledged it), secondly he made the video after 9 months of running from pillar to post for compensation, thirdly he didn’t demand a lot of money or something more than what he deserved
    .-= Mayank Dhingra´s last blog ..Rickshaw Road Shows =-.

  • http://mayank.name Mayank Dhingra

    Interesting Post.

    Incidentally I got to know about the United Airlines incident a couple of hours back only and saw how Dave cleverly used Social Media to claim compensation with the video(s) but to be honest It doesn’t seem like a clear cut case of brandjacking, as firstly his complaint was valid(airlines acknowledged it), secondly he made the video after 9 months of running from pillar to post for compensation, thirdly he didn’t demand a lot of money or something more than what he deserved
    .-= Mayank Dhingra´s last blog ..Rickshaw Road Shows =-.

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  • http://zanesafrit.typepad.com/ Zane Safrit

    Good post. Interesting perspective.

    “holding companies for ransom’ and Will we see customer service deficiencies blown out of proportion (or even faked) in an effort to extort “make good” concessions from brands? caught my attention. This would be as opposed to companies blowing claims of their product out of proportion, or buying stealth bloggers, or posting stealth testimonials (from their employees) on their own site in order to ‘extort’ revenues from unsuspecting customers?

    I think what’s missed in your dialogue about Dave Carroll is the role of the customer in creating a brand’s story. Or creating a new chapter with the content provided by the brand. And the lack of control a brand, even as all-powerful as United may have thought themselves, has now. United created this story as much as Dave Carroll. United was co-creator of Dave’s video.

    Maybe, David will give co-producer credit to United for his album. He should. They provided the inspiration and much of the story line for Dave to share.

    And they did it to others, flight after late flight, surly service after surly service. The only issue is why there aren’t more stories like Dave’s surfacing. Or more albums being sold with help from a brand like United.

    Brands like United forget they now are co-producers in our stories. They contribute elements of our story we share with others.

    United’s brand isn’t built with clever ads or marketing messages. It’s built with customer interactions, customer service, customer happiness, customer word-of-mouth. It’s built with the customer, not in spite of. ( Or in United’s case, some might say despite their customers. )
    .-= Zane Safrit´s last blog ..Advertisers: do you see your disconnect here? =-.

  • http://zanesafrit.typepad.com Zane Safrit

    Good post. Interesting perspective.

    “holding companies for ransom’ and Will we see customer service deficiencies blown out of proportion (or even faked) in an effort to extort “make good” concessions from brands? caught my attention. This would be as opposed to companies blowing claims of their product out of proportion, or buying stealth bloggers, or posting stealth testimonials (from their employees) on their own site in order to ‘extort’ revenues from unsuspecting customers?

    I think what’s missed in your dialogue about Dave Carroll is the role of the customer in creating a brand’s story. Or creating a new chapter with the content provided by the brand. And the lack of control a brand, even as all-powerful as United may have thought themselves, has now. United created this story as much as Dave Carroll. United was co-creator of Dave’s video.

    Maybe, David will give co-producer credit to United for his album. He should. They provided the inspiration and much of the story line for Dave to share.

    And they did it to others, flight after late flight, surly service after surly service. The only issue is why there aren’t more stories like Dave’s surfacing. Or more albums being sold with help from a brand like United.

    Brands like United forget they now are co-producers in our stories. They contribute elements of our story we share with others.

    United’s brand isn’t built with clever ads or marketing messages. It’s built with customer interactions, customer service, customer happiness, customer word-of-mouth. It’s built with the customer, not in spite of. ( Or in United’s case, some might say despite their customers. )
    .-= Zane Safrit´s last blog ..Advertisers: do you see your disconnect here? =-.

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  • http://twitter.com/martinperlin/status/2938937518 Martin

    Is the customer ALWAYS right? "A Social Media Gun to the Head" http://ow.ly/hN0Q (via @jaybaer)

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  • http://twitter.com/jan_b/status/2947484007 Jan_B

    A Social Media Gun to the Head http://bit.ly/19Qyu4

  • http://www.nextlevelblogger.com/ Christian

    I was not aware of this story. I’m glad you posted it here. It’s a great example of how social media can be leveraged both positively and negatively. I of course this it’s rude and shallow for someone to manipulate the reputation of any company for their own personal gain. However, this should serve as a message to companies everywhere how powerful this media is and that they will ignore it at only their own peril. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is.
    .-= Christian´s last blog ..How to Use Twitter Professionally =-.

  • http://www.nextlevelblogger.com Christian

    I was not aware of this story. I’m glad you posted it here. It’s a great example of how social media can be leveraged both positively and negatively. I of course this it’s rude and shallow for someone to manipulate the reputation of any company for their own personal gain. However, this should serve as a message to companies everywhere how powerful this media is and that they will ignore it at only their own peril. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is.
    .-= Christian´s last blog ..How to Use Twitter Professionally =-.

  • http://twitter.com/bullseyevideo/status/3109509759 Dave Katz

    A Social Media Gun to the Head – PR 2.0 Convince & Convert http://ow.ly/iSo6

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  • http://twitter.com/judithw/status/3121498268 judithw

    "Pay me or I will use social media to trash your brain" http://bit.ly/Xyqxz You find the blog post here: http://bit.ly/cULU7

  • http://twitter.com/guetty5/status/3121716479 guetty5

    RT @judithw: "Pay me or I will use social media to trash your brain" http://bit.ly/Xyqxz You find the blog post here: http://bit.ly/cULU7

  • http://twitter.com/peter_einarsson/status/3122674335 Peter PEI Einarsson

    RT @judithw:"Pay me or I will use social media to trash your brain" http://bit.ly/Xyqxz You find the blog post here: http://bit.ly/cULU7

  • http://www.estatehomesla.com/ Dane

    Companies need to listen and they need to say ‘thank you.’ It’s just good manners.

    In the old days, housewives would write to detergent companies and the companies would write back. Nowadays: good luck.

    Several times, on my social media channels, I have made a positive mention of a company or service, and though I don’t do it to hear back, I confess that I’m a little surprised when I don’t. Not even a retweet. I admit, it does impact how much I “sneeze” about them in the future.

    Recent case-in-point: a certain company that makes expensive one-cup coffee/tea makers. I was one of their earliest customers, back when they could only be purchased at one online specialty store. I told almost everyone about them — was a huge fan. I had even given over 10 of them away as gifts — housewarming or wedding presents, thank you gifts to clients, etc. Wrote the company once to thank them and to offer a suggestion. Never heard back. This happens a lot. Companies need to stop seeing their customers as enemies, and start practicing the same good manners that they hopefully practice in their personal lives.

  • http://www.estatehomesla.com Dane

    Companies need to listen and they need to say ‘thank you.’ It’s just good manners.

    In the old days, housewives would write to detergent companies and the companies would write back. Nowadays: good luck.

    Several times, on my social media channels, I have made a positive mention of a company or service, and though I don’t do it to hear back, I confess that I’m a little surprised when I don’t. Not even a retweet. I admit, it does impact how much I “sneeze” about them in the future.

    Recent case-in-point: a certain company that makes expensive one-cup coffee/tea makers. I was one of their earliest customers, back when they could only be purchased at one online specialty store. I told almost everyone about them — was a huge fan. I had even given over 10 of them away as gifts — housewarming or wedding presents, thank you gifts to clients, etc. Wrote the company once to thank them and to offer a suggestion. Never heard back. This happens a lot. Companies need to stop seeing their customers as enemies, and start practicing the same good manners that they hopefully practice in their personal lives.

  • http://twitter.com/bullseyevideo/status/3292850816 Dave Katz

    A Social Media Gun to the Head – PR 2.0 Convince & Convert http://ow.ly/iSo6 #fb

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  • http://twitter.com/prdetto/status/3498790093 Bernadett Csajbi

    RT @bullseyevideo: A Social Media Gun to the Head – PR 2.0 Convince & Convert http://ow.ly/iSo6

  • http://twitter.com/pagerankseo/status/3716951161 Robert Visser

    Reading @jaybaer A Social Media Gun to the Head http://bit.ly/NxrPI 4 & Brand-Saving Recommendations 4 Social Media… http://bit.ly/12HuK3

  • http://twitter.com/documentdriven/status/3824052132 Janice Hussein

    @bullseyevideo A Social Media Gun to the Head – PR 2.0 Convince & Convert http://ow.ly/iSo6 //

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  • letstalkandchat

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