If I Could Turn Back Time…The Importance of Reputation Management on Social Media

Have you ever had a really BAD experience with a company and took to a social network to post your rant? Have you gone as far as Dave Carroll and create a viral YouTube video?

It’s easy to forget the power of social media until instances like this occur. Dave’s video got him more than 200 interviews on talk shows and inspired other customers to create sequels (United Breaks Guitars 2 & 3) that garnered more than a million likes as well. Taylor Guitars also created a YouTube video explaining their repair services in response to Dave’s video. They even gave Dave a new guitar. It seems everyone but United acknowledged Dave…

From a social media perspective if I were an Online Reputation Manager and saw this video I would have gone into immediate damage control. I would have responded to Dave and asked him to write me a message explaining his situation, what damages he is seeking, and thank him for his time and for choosing United. I would have then addressed this with my human resources department and done everything I could to find out where the disconnect was and how the issue escalated to this.

Once I had all of the facts I would release a statement apologizing and explaining what we are doing to make it right for Dave. I would go on a press tour and explain to the media that we understand Dave’s frustration and are doing our best to make sure this instance never happens again. I would also take to social media and express our gratitude for their loyalty and explain how we are ensuring we are making the effort to handle every item in on our airplanes with care. Of course there will be negative comments surrounding our efforts. It is important to not make the same mistake twice and listen and respond to these comments appropriately.

While United Airlines may not have done it right in this situation I am happy that they used Dave’s video as a learning tool. If I were an Online Reputation Manager I would add the following practices to our social media practices:

  • Post our “hours of operation” in our “About Me” sections.
  • Make responding to customer comments within 24 hours a standard.
  • Make our responses personal by saying “thank you” at the beginning of every post and signing each post with out name at the end of each post.
  •  Most importantly if a situation seems very tense to make a supervisor aware. If a situation like Dave’s arises we would discuss on a more micro level and ensure all parties involved are happy with the resolution.
  • Keep “follow up” files for followers we should check in on.

While all of this seems so easy social media is fast and immediate. Most posts don’t show up on other’s social media feeds for very long, but people don’t forget. Taking the time to go the extra mile on social media can save you time, money, and most importantly the trust of your customers.


6 thoughts on “If I Could Turn Back Time…The Importance of Reputation Management on Social Media

    • I think the ethical implications of the follow up are positive. I know I love when companies send me an email or phone me to ask up their services. It makes me feel valued as a customer.

  1. Great idea on enacting the 24-hour policy on responding on social media. Let’s be honest—at this point, how is a company such as United, NOT doing something of that caliber? I like your idea on the follow-up file, but I do have a question for you… are you only keeping files on the individuals who have larger claims, such as Dave? Or will you keep them on complaints? The job could get tedious if it becomes everyone, but if they are just the claims/complaints as large as Dave’s I think this is another great idea to sort of CYA yourself in business.

    Adding a personal (and human) element to your posts/interactions should really go a long way with customers as well. As it stands, United does not have the greatest overall “warm” tone. So finding any way to thaw that ice will really help their image and teach them to be genuine in how they interact. I also like your emphasis on loyalty, which is what I think they’ll need to work on regaining from fans, who now expect this experience as the standard, vs. what may really happen.

    Great thoughts!

    • Thanks for your comment. To answer your question I would only keep files on complaints that have escalated to a certain extent (i.e. makes it to a supervisors attention). The goal is to NOT have it get to Dave’s point and solving a problem before it gets to big is key. I agree with you, adding a personal element is key to social media. By exuding a warm tone it will help customers feel more comfortable and respected.

  2. Hey Alexis,
    That was my first reaction when reading into this story, go into damage control. When someone goes to this extent to prove a point, you have to diffuse the situation immediately. Unfortunately they didn’t, therefore I’m sure they learned from it..and we can learn from it.
    I like the practices you would employ as a reputation manager. These almost seem essential to having an effective social media branding message. You mentioned “taking the time,” and that’s definitely important. If brands can just look to respond and resolved in a timely manner, they will avoid situations like this arising.
    Great Post!

    • Hi Gavin, I agree with you. Taking the time is key in social media. Making sure customers feel heard and respected is so important on social media. There’s no blanket answer that will satisfy everyone on social media. Understanding the audience, developing a tone and creating effective content will meet individual and keep things like Dave’s song at bay!

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