United Faces Social Media Firestorm

Social media has taken off with consumers to show displeasure with service they receive. This is evident by this video’s viral explosion. United Airlines is facing what Motrin, KFC and Domino’s Pizza went through months ago. The short story is Dave Carroll flew United to several tour dates, and when he was making a connecting flight a passenger said “They are throwing guitars on the tarmac.” Which turned out to be Mr. Carroll’s instruments. He complained on the plane, at the airport, and to everyone he could about it and no one seemed to care. Now that the video has gone viral, its up to United to respond.

The most ironic thing about this situation is that if they had taken care of Mr. Carroll they could have avoided this whole situation. Now, I’m sure it will cost them more then a guitar to fix and build their brand again. I have read it costs $3,500 for the guitar, I could only imagine the PR bill alone will be way over that cost. I think its time for companies to acknowledge complaints when they happen. Social media is giving anyone with a flip cam and video editing software a platform to voice their opinions and frustrations. If they upload it to YouTube and it catches on, then there could be some serious problems for companies.

Its time that companies do some research on social media and do some damage control. There are some companies out there who do answer complaints. The prime example is Comcast has been responding on Twitter to people complaining about service. Also, social media will give you feed back you would never get in surveys. You can see where the real problem are in your service and correct them.

If you are a business then you should pay attention to social media and make your business excel at responding to customer complaints. We all like when a company responds and fixes the problem on the first contact.

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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