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Delete that tweet or get out of your seat

July 24, 2014

Small businesses and individuals need to be smart when using social media.

Social media is the great equalizer between consumers and businesses.  A customer who has a bad experience with a product or service can now immediately broadcast it to the world over social media.  That’s just what one man did last week when he tried cancel his Comcast cable and ran into a particularly unhelpful customer service rep.  The result?  Comcast apologized, his service was cancelled and the company was put on notice that aggressive account retention techniques are no longer hidden in the confines of their call center.

Now that the goliath corporations have thousands of Davids with megaphones exposing their faults they need to be on notice – and many businesses big and small are constantly monitoring social media networks for criticism and swiftly responding to protect their reputations.

But the virtual sword cuts both ways, as a father discovered this week when he complained over Twitter about a Southwest Airlines gate agent in Denver.  Angry that his two girls weren’t allowed to join him for priority boarding (don’t people travelling with children board first anyways?) he broadcast his displeasure @SouthwestAir. And they heard it, immediately.  By the time they reached their seats an agent was there and demanded that he delete the tweet or get off the plane.  Eventually the tweet was deleted, they made their flight, Southwest gave all three $50 vouchers and the man pledged to never fly the airline again.

Was the father too quick to call out Southwest for what seems to have been a rather small slight as far as navigating modern air travel goes?  Or did Southwest overreact by demanding he remove the post before they took off?  The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in between.  However, the lesson remains – people are listening on social media, and brands are too.  People should continue to use these platforms to expose corporate bad behaviour – but they shouldn’t be surprised when the companies push back.

For more insight on social media use in your small business, check out the recently published Hiscox white paper: “8 Tips for Reducing Social Media Legal Risks.”