Is Being Right Always Right? ~The Good, Bad & Really Ugly of Social Media.

Real Estate Agent with Myrtle Beach Homes Blog

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 Bad Social Media 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.


Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Deb Nicholls 08/04/2009 01:37 AM
  2. Vicky Henry 08/04/2009 09:16 AM
  3. Connie Winstead 08/04/2009 04:54 PM
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Marilyn Harrell
ReMax Riverhaven - Beaverton, MI
Wixom Lake - Beaverton MI

Thank-you for sharing! I loved BOTH videos! What a catchy tune - united breaks guitars........ and please don't go - reminded me of "Lullaby" by Creed (I think!)

Aug 04, 2009 05:08 AM #71
Bruce Brockmeier
Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS® - Yorba Linda, CA
Coached By Crouch
Hey Jeremy, I'm curious about how many clicks this post has received. I bet it's a ton!
Aug 04, 2009 05:55 AM #72
Jeremy Blanton
Myrtle Beach Homes Blog - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach REALTOR®-

Bruce, it is over 1,000 now

Aug 04, 2009 05:59 AM #73
Monica Bourgeau
New Phase Business Coaching - Portland, OR
Business Coaching

Jeremy - excellent point, reputation management has completely changed with the onslaught of social media. Everything is out there for the world to see, whether you're there or not.

Aug 04, 2009 06:16 AM #74
Patty Knaggs
ReMax Advantage - Gloucester, MA

Hi Jeremy,

This is one of my favorite active rain posts of all time.  Great points and delivery.  Is it a good thing or a bad thing? The Buddhists call it "emptiness".  Everything depends on how you view it. We all have the choice!

Aug 04, 2009 06:23 AM #75
Lani Rosales

Most companies have still not grasped at a C level the magnitude of citizen journalism (blogging, tweeting, any form of social networking where an individual can report on their experiences) and consider the web a kid's tool and brush it off.  The biggest problem with social media is that it is still, on a massive scale, highly misunderstood (which is the root of fear which is the root of defensiveness which is the root of inaction or poor actions).

Great examples of service levels, Jeremy!

Aug 04, 2009 06:38 AM #76
Dan Hayden
Coldwell Banker Preferred - Media, PA
Jerrmy, I should have listened to Maya and read this sooner. Great Post (helps when other peoples content is so complelling. That video of the fish was unreal.
Aug 04, 2009 08:30 AM #77
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA
Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate.

Jeremy - Great insight here. It really is amazing the power of social media and its ever growing influence.  You are right, sometimes when you are right, you are wrong !  This is a great example.

Aug 04, 2009 10:23 AM #78
Perry R. King Sr.
Lawerance Realty - Santa Clarita, CA

Thanks Jeremy, if it wasn't for you and activerain I would not heard or known anything about this..... I from Chicago (45 years ago).... by the way did United fix the guitare or will they sue?

Aug 04, 2009 11:28 AM #79
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

There are far fewer facts, and far more opinions!  There is little truth, there is mostly versions!. . . And like Dr. Phil asks, "Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?"

Aug 04, 2009 01:17 PM #80


Since your topic is so engaging -- and packs an intellectual "punch" that we often miss in the blogging medium -- it is quite easy to gloss over how much effort you took to craft your message.

You present lively, polished writing with an intense subject: not easy to do and a pleasure to read.  Well done.  I too enjoyed the aquarium video and the song. 


Aug 04, 2009 01:33 PM #81
Jeremy Blanton
Myrtle Beach Homes Blog - Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach REALTOR®-

Andrew- Thank you my friend for stopping by & commenting.  The network has just not been the same since you left.  Your words mean so much.  Thank you.

Aug 04, 2009 01:39 PM #82
Erica Ramus
Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA - Pottsville, PA
MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate

Great post. Take advantage of FREE publicity and turn it to your advantage.

Aug 04, 2009 01:54 PM #83
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
Jeremy - I finally had a chance to watch the aquarium video in full screen HD - awesome! I may have to buy Barcelona's music myself.
Aug 04, 2009 03:07 PM #84
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker
Jeremy, You have to be very careful. If you post something negative, it can come back to haunt you. An, it's not quite so easy to simply delete the post when it may have travelled over the internet to places beyond your own control. Brian
Aug 04, 2009 03:15 PM #85
Fran Gatti
RE/MAX Integrity - Medford, OR
Managing Principal Broker - RE/MAX Integrity
I had the wedding video emailed to me last week. I thought it was so cool. Your point is very well taken. Good post.
Aug 04, 2009 06:24 PM #86
Fran Gatti
RE/MAX Integrity - Medford, OR
Managing Principal Broker - RE/MAX Integrity
I had the wedding video emailed to me last week. I thought it was so cool. Your point is very well taken. Good post.
Aug 04, 2009 06:26 PM #87
Paul Slaybaugh
Realty Executives - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate

While I agree to a degree with the moral of this particular story, I do think we place a little too much credit on the prolonged disgruntlement of today's short attention-span audience.  The company is likely damaged in the here and now, but let's not kid ourselves.  This story has already been replaced by the next round of outrage reserved for the trending topic of the hour.  25 years to rebuild brand reputation?  No one will remember this bit of ill-advised PR in 25 days.  Aside from a few stubborn green Twitter avatars, the American public has already forgotten about the Iran election. 

Not that it diminishes the import of minding your reputation as to how you comport yourself in business (a professional strives to do right, even in the absence of perceived consequence), but this comment is already so five minutes ago by today's information-on-demand society.  Bad form on this company's part, indeed, but this isn't a Hindenburg incident.  Most people view brokers as a necessary evil to begin with, and will merely take such a story of confirmation of that belief.  Stupid?  Yes.  Short term disruption to their business?  Yes.  An irreversible blow to future earning potential?  Hell, even Michael Vick is interviewing for a job these days.  Too much access to too much information for anything short of scandal on par with Teapot Domian proportions to linger much past the point of initial righteous fury. 

There is a market for everything anymore.  Even "sue first, ask questions later" types of organizations.  Believe it.

Aug 05, 2009 05:35 AM #88
andrea re
Mopper-Stapen,Realtors - Savannah, GA
You are so right-- so many times companies/individuals --just jump to the other end without really thinking about what they are doing -- or what the end line could be. Or how they could handle customer complaints-- and be service oriented!! And improve vs alienate customers The web and social media is going ?? what should I say-viral?? So definitely watch what you say and how you market. It is now more critical than ever. For every business--Customer First !! And get it right the first time
Aug 05, 2009 05:09 PM #89
Mark Velasco
Sharpstone Realty, Inc - Whittier, CA
Listing Agent-Whittier & Surrounding ciities

Great point Jeremy. We need to protect our online reputation. It can cost us lots of business

Aug 17, 2009 05:32 PM #90
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Myrtle Beach REALTOR®-
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