Monthly Archives: June 2014

Accuracy should win

I wouldn’t want to be a journalist now with all the news being reported on social media and having to dig through it all to figure out what is correct and what it is not. If you end up relying on a piece of information that is incorrect your career may be over. That’s a lot of pressure to live up to.

ImageSocial media and breaking news first has led to a lot of inaccuracies. The responsibility relies on the person doing the posting. It was really interesting to see how advance Twitter’s search could be. I had no idea of the level it could go but that is a great resource for those hunting down correct information.

When it comes to the speed and accuracy debate, accuracy should win. Why would a brand want to be the first if it is in fact incorrect? They will then have that error tied to them as more news swirls. While I’ve not been in a situation to know what I would do, a brand could send an initial tweet about what they do know to be correct and say more details coming. Then more details could be released as they were to be found accurate.

If speed and accuracy are both important to an organization then they need to have the resources available to have all hands on deck when breaking news occurs. While you can’t plan for it to happen, you can have a plan in place and know who will play what role. That will create less scrambling and more people verifying facts and pushing out messages on social media in the time of breaking news.

While at the LPGA, I followed all of our golf industry media on Twitter and you could always see them trying to be the first to break a story. We would embargo news yet it would still break prior to our release going out. Waiting was not good enough. Once someone was out there with information they all would follow suit as fast as they could. No one wants to be left out even if that meant putting more time and information into a piece. It became about who could say it first on Twitter and I imagine it still is.

I don’t find unpublishing images to be unethical. I can see how a brand may not want to have the image remain on their social feeds, so they remove it. Case in point recently with Delta tweeting a World Cup score with a picture of a giraffe representing Ghana. I saw the image on Delta’s feed prior to it being deleted. Yes the image will forever live in the social space because nothing ever really dies, but at least the brand doesn’t have it on their page continuing to stare them in the face. It also keeps the original from further spiraling out of viral control.


Respond Like A Human

ImageI’m not sure I have the heart to handle negative complaints that a lot of companies get, especially ones that provide a service or a product. It has to be hard to see the negativity and respond in a kind and caring way all the time. I’m sure people aren’t saying what they really want to say but turn on their professional tone and assist customers with their needs.

If I received this complaint how would I respond?

“I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response:

“I really appreciate you making us aware of the state of our store. What you described certainly doesn’t meet our standards. I’d really like to get more information from you and make up for the situation. I will message you my contact information.”

I don’t want to be too robotic and have a standard out of the box answer. I used “I” in the response to make it more personal instead of using “we” as a company. I tried to infuse sincerity and concern while finding a way to move the conversation off social media. I wouldn’t want more details spilling out for all to see. It’s bad enough for other customers to see this complaint, so I’d want to stop the situation before it could get any worse. Hopefully the customer would comply.

How should a mainstream news network respond to this complaint when the programming was actually not one sided?

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

My response:

“Thank you for reaching out and taking the time to provide your feedback. I’m sorry that our broadcast stirred up such negative emotions for you. This is an extremely important matter and we always want to report fairly. I’m going to remove your comment because of the language being used as it goes against our community guidelines. I will make our producers aware of your feedback.”

That was a tough response to develop. How do you respond politely to someone yet tell them you don’t think they are right. You want them to feel like their opinion matters and that you are listening. The user of a cuss word also makes for an interesting situation. If the company had community guidelines posted, then I would have every right to remove the comment but first let the person know why it is being removed. I wouldn’t want someone to think it was removed because it was negative.

How much to moderate?

While I may not use social media as a negative sounding board, that doesn’t mean that others won’t. Brands have to be ready for the good and the bad. They also have to have a policy in place for moderating all types of comments. Of course they will always be caught off guard but it is important to be at the ready.

ImageOur lecture talked about how social media is not our property, even though it may be our Facebook page. I’ve never looked at it that way. Everyone has a right to leave messages whether you agree with them or not. The last thing a brand should do is remove a comment unless it is obscene or hurting their community.

I think there are big differences in how people behave on Twitter and Facebook. I also think it depends on the end user. Someone on Twitter might blast a company with a negative tweet but the 140 character limit puts a stop to someone writing a novel about a bad experience. If someone wants to go into a lot of detail then Facebook is going to be the place to do that. I feel like negative comments on Twitter are more readily available to the public than on Facebook. With Facebook you have to dig a little to find the negativity.

I’ve not been in a situation until recently where I’ve had to moderate comments. Just this weekend I had a few fans make questionable comments and I wasn’t really sure what to do. It made me realize how handy moderation guidelines would’ve been to help know what to do about making lewd comments. One fan called another team sh*t and another fan posted a photo with text on it saying “Surprise Mother F****.” While the photo had didn’t have the offensive word typed out, you knew what it mean. It still seems like an image we wouldn’t want in our comments.

I also think it is important to remember with moderation to reward the good. I make it a point to like comments from our fans and give replies when needed to positive and negative comments. For some brands, moderation is a full-time job. The pages I manage have a reasonable amount of comments so it is easier to handle but again we need a policy in place to help steer me in the right moderation direction.

How would you feel if we broke your guitar?

ImageIt would’ve been fun to have been a fly on the wall the day that United Airlines found out about the video from Dave Carroll that ended up going viral. I’m sure reactions were not positive but did United take the video seriously at first? I don’t know the answer to that. I doubt United thought it would spiral out of control like it did and this being the first of its kind, I doubt they had a plan in place.

If I had been the United Airlines Online Reputation Manager at the time, I would’ve taken swift action. From all that I’ve read, it doesn’t seem like United acted very quickly. It took several days for the mainstream media to pick up on the video and that is when the video spiraled out of control with views and social media activity. In that time I would gotten out in front of the story and tried to put the fire out.

My tactic would’ve been to be compassionate towards Dave Carroll and present a message that was on his level. Corporate speak during this type of situation isn’t going to work, no matter how prestigious the brand. With any communication taking place, it would be important to remember that you’re speaking to a person. I would’ve used a tone that made people realize that United is putting themselves in Dave’s shoes.

An apology and reaction to the video would’ve been issued and circulated though all forms of media. It doesn’t seem that United did much on social media in terms of approaching the subject or responding to any comments. Social media and blogs is how the video went viral, so it is important for United to utilize those outlets when spreading its message.

While I know I wouldn’t have been able to respond to everyone, statements can be made generally to address the comments being made. While the main stream media would be running with the topic, they also could’ve presented United’s thoughts had there been some.

A formal press release would be posted to the company website and kept in place until the attention died down. I wouldn’t want people coming to United’s website and not see any reference. People shouldn’t have to find the response from United on any other site. If the company had a blog, I would’ve had someone write about how the situation could’ve gone differently and ultimately give Dave Carroll credit for new customer service policies that would be put into place.

Dave Carroll ended up producing multiple videos and United was prepared. It ended up responding with a statement an hour after the second video and even using a pretty laid back message as its response.

Reputation on the line


The tips in our lecture for how to fix a reputation are very useful. Many companies think too much and take too long to respond while a situation may be spiraling out of control. The best thing would be to reach out to the person to let them know you’re listening and that will buy a company some time to craft the best response.

Another thing companies should think about when responding is practicing their response as if the person is right there in front of them. Things can be turned into a positive faster when compassion and a human tone are used.

When it comes to the British Airways promoted tweet fiasco, I’m scared. I remember when this happened and I saw tweets that this could become a new normal. That’s scary for companies. I think the customer had a right to do what he did even if it was extreme. It’s definitely pushing the boundaries of being ethical. Many will find it unethical but I’m on the fence with this one. It isn’t clear to me because I can see both sides of the story. If that’s what he wants to do with his money and it makes him feel better, then more power to him.

British Airways shouldn’t have responded with its Twitter hours as an excuse. That was the first fail. Also for a company that is as global as British Airways, it should have people monitoring social media at all times. Unfortunately it had to learn a lesson the hard way. British Airways shouldn’t have to grovel but it should’ve offered a more sincere apology and worked on compensating the man. Not that compensation could erase the damage done with promoted tweets, but it could’ve made for a better story with media in how it handled the situation.

United Airlines faced the same sort of crisis when a YouTube video went viral about breaking a guitar. It ended up apologizing and donating money to a charity like the customer requested. From what I’ve read though, United didn’t do a whole lot in the way of making the public aware of its actions. An amazing amount of people saw the YouTube video so I would’ve thought that United would’ve wanted to promote the remedy more than it did.

Social Media So Fast You’ll Freak


To explain how well Jimmy John’s is at social media I could just fill this blog with screenshots of its posts and tweets. Since that won’t meet the 400 word requirement, let me explain to you why it is so good and show you evidence along the way.

ImageJimmy John’s tag line is subs so fast you’ll freak. I could say the same thing about its customer response time on Twitter. At the time I’m writing this, which is 9:00 p.m. ET, Jimmy John’s has replied to 66 people on Twitter today. It also retweeted seven tweets and included funny messages with them. I’d say that’s a pretty good day’s work for whoever is manning its Twitter account.

People tweet Jimmy John’s because they know someone will be there for them. It uses a tone that makes messages sound like they are coming from your best friend. A super excited, hyper best friend at that. The witty responses used are pure entertainment and really draw people in. Jimmy John’s has created a community where people want to share their love for the product and it does a great job highlighting it.

The lessons for other companies to learn from Jimmy John’s is to be human and engage your audience. Almost all of Jimmy John’s messaging on Twitter revolves around audience feedback. It is crowd sourcing for content without even asking for it.

ImageJimmy John’s uses a tone that is exciting and endearing. It doesn’t just respond with blanket statements. It crafts responses and puts effort into engaging back with its audience. Its audience can see they are important to the Jimmy John’s community and want to help spread the message about how great Jimmy John’s is. The messages that get personal responses with retweets are picked with care. I can tell that the tweets of the day are the best of the bunch and the ones that Jimmy John’s can have the most fun with.

One of the best examples I’ve found from Jimmy John’s is from a recent Twitter Q&A session it did. A college student asked Jimmy John’s for a menu board to make a beer pong table. I bet this student didn’t think that Jimmy John’s would actually just give her a beer pong table if she came to its office to pick it up. Jimmy John’s even had a sandwich and fun apparel waiting for her upon arrival. It’s all about customer experience for Jimmy John’s.

It’s not always positive with Jimmy John’s as I’ve lead you to believe so far. It takes the negative complaints with the positive. I saw plenty of tweets where Jimmy John’s was asking someone who tweeted a negative experience to send a direct message so it could take care of the issue. That’s another lesson companies can take away from this example. You can’t hide from the negative. If you embrace it, you can turn that negative into a positive.


My one piece of advice for Jimmy John’s is don’t take the weekends off. Yes everyone needs a day off but I’m sure there’s someone who can man your Twitter account on the weekends to provide the same great entertainment and customer service being providing during the week.


Still Searching for the Right Voice


KLM made a statement and put themselves high above the rest by providing such great social media customer service. They dedicated the resources to have 24 hours a day coverage of social media requests. I’m not sure I’ve heard of any other company doing that. That is a huge investment on their part and I’m sure it has a lot of benefits.

I agree with KLM that responding to your audience and watching a negative reaction change to a positive one is what makes it all worth it. The social media that I manage doesn’t see a lot of customer complaints but at a previous job I received all the fan feedback by email. I always tried to answer people who had questions or a negative complaint that I could address. I couldn’t address them all but the ones that I could answer I went out of my way to get back to them quickly and in a tone that would help the person change their reaction into a positive. Most of the time it worked and it made it all worth it for me.

Finding a human voice has always been hard for me when managing a brand’s social media. I tend to take a newsy tone, be straightforward and keep it very fact based. This might work for certain brands. The brand I manage now on social media could use a more laid back tone. It’s dealing with sports fans that are passionate and have a lot of energy and our tone should embody that as well. I just find it really hard to execute.

Finding my own personal voice is a challenge as well. My personal involvement in social media doesn’t amount to very much. I have accounts across all the major platforms and utilize some more than others. With Facebook I really only use it to post the fun we have as a family and the same goes for Instagram. The majority of the posts center on my daughter, so the tone is very fun and comes from a place of me being a proud mom. The relationships that I have developed with people revolves around them wanting to watch my daughter grow up. I’m sure I over posted her first year of her life but I always got great engagement with her photos and videos so I must’ve been giving my audience what they wanted to see.

I’m on Twitter constantly but I don’t tweet much from my own account. This is the platform where I’ve had the hardest time finding my voice. What do people want to hear from me? I haven’t really figured it out yet. I also haven’t built up any relationships in that space either. I’d like to start being a social media resource especially in the sports space. My voice would need to match that of a sports fan and come from a place of passion and being upbeat.