Over the past few weeks I have been amazed by infinite power that social media possesses. There have been some really amazing examples of how social media has changed the entire reputation of major companies that have worked years to build that reputation in a matter of moments through social Media. There have been good, bad, & really ugly examples that have happened. All of these examples demonstrate the sheer power of social media.
The Bad- "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization"
I am sure many of you have heard of the travesty that came about when a Real Estate Company sued a former tenant for $50,000 over a tweet that she made. By this company taking this sort of action, they immediately became known as a "We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization" That statement instantly placed the company in the spotlight with some of the worst media possible. This subject became a trending topic on twitter in less than 3 hours & thousands of posts were written about it.
While I am not going to get into the debate of whether it was ok or not for the tenant to make a statement like this, or if the real estate company had a right to sue, the point I am trying to convey is that the issue from the real estate company standpoint should've been handled differently.
While the lawsuit itself was a big step that would be questionable by many to take, that also isn't the part that really brought the bad press onto the Real Estate Company & changed the entire reputation of that company in a matter of minutes. The statement made by a high up representative of "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of organization" is what changed everything at that company instantly.
A reputation that the company had worked over 25 years to establish a reputation as one of the premiere apartment leasing & property management companies was destroy in less than an hour by one executives statement.
Unfortunately for this company, it may take them another 25 years to rebuild their reputation back to where it was. Or even longer. While the Executive has issued several other statements since trying to explain their reasons for the lawsuit, most people will remember them always for that negative statement.
The Really Ugly- United, please fix my Taylor guitar!
A rather unknown band used a catchy song & lyrics with a silly video to let the world know how United Airlines took care of their instruments. This poor gentleman tried for over a year to get someone from United to help him with a claim after he watched the workers throw his guitar around on the tarmac & ended up breaking his very expensive Taylor Guitar. He talked to several members within the organization to try & get help but all he received was sorry, we won't replace, and claim denied. So, Dave Carroll took matters into his own hands decided to write the song & make a video. If you haven't watched the video, take a minute & have a good laugh. United Breaks Guitars has received over 4.6 million views in just 28 days on Youtube.
In less than a week, the video was well over 1 million views & United had also agreed to pay Dave for his broken Taylor guitar. Once again, the power of social media changed the life long reputation of a major company in less than a few days.
Barcelona wants to thank you!~ A Good Example of Responding in Social Media
A visitor to the Okinawa Churaumai Aquarium shot a beautiful video of Kuroshio Sea, (try watching it in HD & full screen, it is awesome!) which is the second largest acrylic viewing panel in the world. On the video, he overlaid a great song by a band called Barcelona. The gentleman who published the video used the song without written permission & the band was left with choices of what type of actions to take. They could have either became very angry & demanded the video be removed for using their song without permission.
However, this band took a different approach. Instead of telling you what they did, I will let you just watch the video below:
This band decided to embrace the use of social media and it has paid off in huge dividends for them. Their sales have increased tremendously & also their reputation has grown by leaps & bounds as a band that appreciates their fans. The video has since been viewed over 1.5 million times! Another example is of a super funny wedding entrance video that Claire shared on her blog. BMG records & Chris Brown could've required them to take down the video because it is within their legal rights to do so. Instead, they allowed it to stay up & the creators of the video loved the song so much that they placed a simple ad link on the video to "buy this song on iTunes" and the song sales went up incredibly.
What's Your Point to All of This?
The point to all of these examples is this. Social media is one of the most powerful forces out there for your business. You can write posts, create videos & make tweets that can shape your business from top to bottom. However the key to doing so successfully is to look at the overall picture. In my two negative examples above, if the Real Estate company had just ignored the tweet that the person shared with her 29 friends on twitter they would not have such bad press & a totally ruined reputation. While they may have the right to sue from a legal standpoint, the $50,000 suit will never come close to covering the damages done by social media to their reputation.
United Airlines had all the chances in the world to fix their situation. instead they stood firm and said no. Saying no to Dave Carroll has turned him into an instant star & also brought United some of the worst publicity a company has seen in years. All over a $3,000 guitar. While United has since agreed to fix the guitar it will never fix the damage caused by one simple video.
While these two companies ended up in the negative, the other two examples show how picking the "best" solution instead of the "right" have paid off in great dividends of higher sales & also some of the most positive story lines of Social Media. So, before you make that response in business you may want to stop & consider this: Is being right always right? You be the judge.