The risks for companies of the social media age

Well this week I have been reading stories of how social media has hurt companies reputations and their share price for that matter, and to be completely honest it does make me nervous about pushing my own little companies profile, however as an internet based company – how else am I going to increase our customer base without “getting out there” as such? But there are definitely some lessons to be learnt from those that have gone before!

United Breaks Guitars – How not paying attention to customers can cost millions! 

I came across this video and case study during my class readings over the last couple of weeks. The long and the short of it is that Guitarist and Lead singer of Sons of Maxwell – Dave Carroll – was travelling on United airlines with the band for a concert tour and witnessed the baggage carriers throw and damage his guitar case, he brought it up with 3 different flight attendants, however received no sympathy. Upon arriving at the destination he found that his US$3,500 Taylor guitar had in fact been damaged. Over the next 9 months he tried to get compensation for the breakage, however was continuously told no. So he wrote a song, and published the video on the bands YouTube channel. What conspired after that was in the end something that showed (in my opinion) the arrogance of a company who didn’t understand and appreciate how social media can damage its reputation – and in this case its share value! Taulbee Jackson’s blog on social media risk outlines how United Airlines failed to respond to this complaint early enough which resulted in the share price dropping by 10% and the shareholders loosing US$180 million….. all for a $3,500 guitar. 

Kinda gets stuck in your head huh!

From everything that I have been reading it appears that many big companies have been slow to react to the social media age – especially those that have been around long before social media was even a consideration. However social media is not a craze. It is not something that is going away. The world is becoming smaller and smaller as everyday people are connecting with each other through Facebook, You Tube, Blogs, Twitter, Flicker etc. the list goes ON! People who would otherwise never have met (and probably will never meet face to face) are sharing experiences with each other. With this connectivity it takes seconds for an upset customer to write something unfavorable about their experience or dissatisfaction with the service they have been provided, this is then read by everyone that person is connected too. In the case above, Sons of Maxwell already had a You-Tube Channel with many followers, after posting the video many of their followers would have “shared” the video through either a link on twitter or as a video on their facebook page, thereby sharing it with all the people they are connected to, then many of these people will have “liked” and shared with their list of friends. Before long the video went viral and the above loss happened for the company because they did not act on the original complaint, and then work to mitigate the outcome when the video was posted. 

How a company can fight back using social media as a tool

One of my class mates posted an interesting video on our class forum where our national airline created a video as a response to a magazine article slandering their service and where it was headed due to a proposed merger. Funnily enough the CEO responded in a way that made the magazine look like they didn’t research their story at all. 

In this situation, social media worked in the companies favor as they were able to respond to an article about them in a humorous and yet factual way, that was immediately available to all of their customers, non customers and media alike. They did what most companies refuse to do when they are caught up in a scandal. They fronted up! How often are we watching stories on the current affairs shows and at the end of the article there is a final note from the presenter saying that they contacted the company in question only to either have no response or be told no one was prepared to come on camera and comment…… The joys of the Social Media age that we are living is that companies are able to present their side of the story, either through a YouTube video (like AirNZ’s it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to make!), a Tweet, a press release on their website or through a blog or Facebook and there is no worry regarding the media twisting what they say to mean something else, or leaving part of what they have said out which then skews the rest of the statement to look like they have said something else. 

Lessons to be learnt

So what have I learnt for my own little company regarding the use of Social Media as a tool for customer satisfaction. Mostly, take care of each and every customer! It only takes one upset customer to write one bad thing about you on Facebook or the like and it can ruin your entire reputation. Especially for a little company like mine and the small market base that I have to work with.

I have learnt that Social Media can be a wonderful tool to advertise yourself, your products announce new and exciting opportunities but it can also be a tool for your unhappy customers to bring you down!

Basically – no customer is unimportant!



A strange sense of responsibility!

When I started writing my blog I wondered whether my lecturer would worry too much about how many people had viewed my blog……

Would I get marked down for having only my very loving family and friends look at it once because I had posted something on Facebook about starting a blog and they clicked on the link?

However the most starling thing happened to me last night. Within 30 minutes of posting my first post someone had liked it? And that someone had nothing to do with me?!?!

My Startling Revelation!

Throughout the evening my phone kept going off with new e-mail alerts telling me that someone else liked my post, or that Opinionated Man had even commented on my post!!!!?!?! (Thank you by the way!) I was flabbergasted! People were reading my blog and reading it to a point of having an opinion on it! With this stream of e-mails came a startling revelation, and with it a strange sense of responsibility.


What I write must mean something!


I mean there are people out there in cyberspace reading what I have to say. They are using up 2-3 minutes of their lives to actually read what I am writing. That is time that they can’t get back to do something else. Hence where my sense of responsibility came from. A need to make sure that what I write is worth someone reading. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I am ever going to be the person who would write something that people quote for centuries to come! However that doesn’t remove the responsibility that I feel to ensure that someone doesn’t completely waste their time!

This feeling is completely new to me. As I mentioned in my previous post I have been a facebookee for a few years, so I am used to typing something that other people read. But as I also mentioned my friends list is extremely restricted and is only being seen by people of my choosing because I chose them as “friends” on that Social Media Network. However on here, this is open to anyone! 

Who would read my posts?

My sense of “who would read my blog” came I think from one of the readings I did for this paper in which they say that there was over 70 million blogs on Word Press by the end of 2011. We are now in 2013…. so how many more million will there be now?!?!? Why would anyone choose to read my one… especially as it is for a university assignment.. and not about some controversial topic!

However I am happy to say that I am stoked and pleased that people have decided to read my posts and even comment on it. Although as mentioned above I don’t think that I will write anything earth shattering, I do thank you for the time that you have spent reading this, and will try to make sure that what I write has at least some meaning! 

Too many options! Where to start!?!?!?

Well for the last couple of weeks I have been reading and reading and reading about how to make blogs, what makes a good blog, why should businesses make blogs. So for my first ever blog post I am going to start with:

Where do I start? 

So for the last week I have signed up to WordPress, created a profile, decided what to call my blog, figured out what I want it to look like, but really? there are so many options! It has taken me all week to get to the point where I think I actually want to make my blog “public” and start publishing what I am going to say. I at least have a direction to go as my topic is given by my assignment which is written above in my by-line.

From what I can see the norm for a blogger is to have something to say, but with that is a need to share that with the world in general. Me? I guess I have never held that compulsion. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Social Media nOOb as such. I joined facebook back on the 27th Sept 2007 (according to my profile timeline) and did another couple of sites before that. But my friend list is reserved for actual friends whom I see in what some call “meatspace” and my family. Which means unlike the majority, my friend list only runs to double digits rather than triple or quadruple and when I post, only those I actually have contact with see what I have to say. With this comes the fact that I am an inherently private person, and don’t feel the need to share my opinions with the world in general. However! As you may (or may not) have read in my about me I am studying a paper that requires me to write a blog, but more than that I am running a small side branch of a company and I think that Social Media might just help me grow that further, so I will get over my aversion to sharing my thoughts!

Overwhelming number of options!

So I joined (all good), but here is where my problem starts… I’m a perfectionist… and find it very hard to decide and commit to things. Especially when I am being marked for it! hehe. The first thing that WordPress asked me to do was to choose a theme…… But which one is right? Which one should I choose? Then when I choose one do I customize it so that it looks like I have done more than clicked “activate”? I guess I put a lot of store in the age old adage of “First impressions LAST!” So if I use the wrong theme…. I could be setting myself up for failure! 

So then from here my thought process moves to wondering how does a business choose the right theme to ensure that they make the right first impression in their blog? Yes I guess if you are big multi-national company who has an already established branding, you would have designers use your current branding to make some thing that matches. But what if, you are like me and have started a small side company selling clothes and accessories… how do you decide on your theme when you haven’t got an established brand? From here I starting thinking the usual “target market” etc. but even then. there are so many choices!

The right theme for this blog

I tried on many blog themes over the last week. Trying to find the one that would give me “that look” that I was after. However struggled to decide what that “that look” was. Traditionally I go for that filigree, elegant type look.  I tried on one that I loved the elegant look of, but then struggled to add page links. So decided to try something else. But again, as I seem to be on repeat in this blog “there were so many to choose from”.  On a whim I decided to try on this fishing theme. Scrolled down and saw my new friend the little worm on a hook. Now this was a theme that made me giggle!  It brings some humor to my otherwise serious ramblings and I hope that I can make everyone else giggle too!

So what is the right theme? 

From my experience over the last week I have decided the right them is the one that feels right to you! Yes as I have said above the right theme for a multi-national company will be one that matches their current branding. However for a small start up company, (or the average student blogger like myself), the right theme is one that makes you feel good, and gives out the impression that you want to put across. It isn’t a permanent thing, it can be easily changed. My impression that I am trying to make – is that I am not going to take myself so seriously and that I am going to have fun trying to explore my first exploration into blogging, whilst figuring out how I can use Social Media to help grow my little company!

What do you think…. did I pick the right theme for my impression?