WALK before you RUN ... STOP before you POST ... SLOW DOWN before you LAUNCH

"Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions"
~Ken Blanchard

There is an increasing alarming trend of social media enthusiasts launching displeasure at their nemesis via Social Media.  Which brings to mind the Blog Title:  "WALK before you RUN (i.e. install new programs) ... STOP before you POST (think of the ramifications of what your brand is doing) .... SLOW DOWN before you LAUNCH (do a careful analysis of how you will manage Social Media before you simply launch your brand).  Airlines seem to be the highest target of displeasure these days, I would imagine with all the weather challenges causing travel mayhem over the holiday travel season. 

Just by performing a Google search "travel displeasure expressed" I was able to find plenty. 

  1.  Facebook https://www.facebook.com/USAirways/posts/10151562598183473
  2.  New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/14/business/southwest-flight-to-missouri-lands-at-the-wrong-airport.html?_r=0
  3.  Linked In:  http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20121014052901-204274949-no-airline-bashing-from-me?trk=vsrp_influencer_content_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A701314631389748985907%2CVSRPtargetId%3A5084%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary
So much so that even Trip Advisor has launched their Airline Review feature (story by NextWeb).

Having become such a topical subject, even USA Today posted how to write an effective complaint to an airline.

What surprised me what wasn't being said:  how negative social media feedback has the airlines scrambling to recoup and recover.  It is impacting dozens of other brands.  This creates ample opportunity for Social Media advisors to flourish!

NOTE:  This is not solely an airline dilemma but only used based on very recent developments.  I had my own soap opera with an airline after I went online to express my own displeasure on service by a particular airline on a recent trip to Mexico with my sister.  Here are some of my observations:

  1. Organizations are asking for consumers to resort to online ordering, booking, etc. which obviously decreases human capital;
  2. They are asking for online feedback or bookings but not drawing out a full organizational plan on how communications/feedback is going to be handled, how, by whom and when? 
  3. The same websites that are promoting feedback, online bookings are not making sure that recent developments are being updated or communicated  across channels to those interacting with customers directly(i.e.  a special seat selection feature was not posted nor communicated when a 1-800 was called)
  4. Everyone seems to have recognized that "be there or be square" is a necessity for social media but it hasn't been prioritized or effectively organized before it has been launched.  Results:  Knee jerk reaction instead of carefully crafted planning.

Another personal example that prompted me to write was after purchasing a Christmas present for a beauty service for my sister using my credit card, when trying to telephone to book an appointment over the telephone I got a broadcast message, they didn't answer and referred to their website to book online.   Unfortunately, the website would only allow the booking to be made if you provided a credit card, which I didn't want to do since the service had already been paid for ... nor was it updated to allow entering the most recent promotion.  I would have really have liked to emphasized with them that whenever a customer is willing to speak to you personally,  you shouldn't take away this opportunity to learn what they want, what inspired them to call.  It strongly communicates complacency and lack of care .... quite the opposite of savvy or hip thinking they're ahead of the curve.

Peter (Petra) isn't talking to Paul (Paula) in organizations apparently.  Managing your online data, website, social media is imploding at an alarming rate -- the same rate as Social Media panic adoption is unfolding.   Unfortunately, it is seemingly being used as a Marketing Tool to promote (or what I sometimes call SPAM)  nice stories, or brilliantly leverage viral messaging i.e.  West Jet's Christmas miracle.  Let's be honest:  this is not "engaging" with your customers, it is broadcasting, self promotion (aka SPAM) and dictating what you want them to believe.


What seems sad is that when opinions don't agree with the masses (often employees or related advocates) they aren't improving matters.  Defending by bullying is not positive, but fighting fire with fire, or adding fuel to an ember.  I wondered out loud if savvy social media campaigns that go viral are not simply leveraged advertising campaigns that are significant.  At least Old Spice is open and honest that their viral campaigns ARE advertising campaigns and are even tied in with television commercials.  Beware, if you are going to express your opinion, you had better be prepared for open attack.  Thankfully, Mike Lehr, @MikeLehrOZA an Intuition Expert and Author, defended the writer's opinion and things quietened down:

  •  First, this is an advertisement. Second, it is heart warming; the volunteers should be commended. The comment by +BLOCKED OUT  is unscrupulous.
  • Let's remember that good people are often used to serve purposes we don't like. I know I have been used in such a manner. However, let's not confuse criticism for the effort as criticism for the people involved and for their efforts
  • The best example is war. Good men and women, with very good intentions, are sometimes sent to fight for questionable purposes determined by others. There is a difference between criticizing the war and criticizing the soldiers. One does not mean you are also criticizing the other. In Vietnam, we treated the soldiers badly for a war we did not like. This was wrong. An overwhelming number of these soldiers, including my deceased cousin, were good people not baby killers. In Iraq and Afghanistan, while most do not like the war, this time we realize that the vast majority of soldiers are good people working hard and we are treating them far better.
  • Returning to Jeannette's point at hand, she is criticizing the war, not the soldiers. However, it's easy for those who support the war to discredit critics by trying to say criticism for the war is also criticism for the soldiers. This is an unscrupulous tactic.
  • If there are problems with Jeannette's facts about the circumstances surrounding the advertisement, let's hear it. However, unless I misread something, I don't believe Jeannette attacked any volunteer or their efforts.
  • Let's also face it that often companies with a troubling image pay a lot of money to revamp it. WalMart changed it's logo to add a yellow, friendly sun. BP after the Gulf disaster spent much on an advertising campaign highlighting its environmental efforts. It's not inconceivable that West Jet is doing the same. That is what I believe Jeannette is calling into question
Feedback is good for me and I learn a great deal from both the positive and negative sides:  it helps me to define, improve, or expand on messages, posts, content.  Sadly, this same advice could be applied by the many brands, industries, companies that are bulldozing their way on to the Social Media scene without much forethought.  What the above was a brilliant opportunity to turn controversy and feedback into more positive wins. 

I get the impression that there are so many ways that Social Media is being misunderstood and/or mismanaged.  My suggestion:  instead of marketing, IT and webmaster battling for control, organizations start thinking of a new title:  Chief Messaging Officer.  This person would be an insider who could objectively look at, monitor, and author messaging from the organization to ensure that it is all seamless and connected across all fronts rather than the often fragmented methodology. 

Draw out a Feedback chart for heavens sake.  Draw the lines on who responds to what, with it tied in with Social Media.  Organizations are taking the time to promote the brand, pay for agencies by the boatload of money but not really protecting their feedback channels.  Consider the old adage that good news travels fast, but negative faster.  Like the Facebook post example, you can't manage or control what users do or what platform they use to express their displeasure, but you can sure be more proactive in managing the feedback by turning the adversaries into advocates (Previous Blog Post:  Turn Adversaries into Advocates ) or a great recent post by one of my favorite writers from Forbes, TJ McCue "How to get more positive reviews!

So ... like I said, WALK before you RUN with it, STOP before you POST a response, and SLOW DOWN before you LAUNCH your social media program -- start identifying and placing more importance on feedback, looping website/promotions to social media messaging, be responsive and embrace feedback for what it is worth:  a way to uncover opportunities to make improvements.

"All the adversities I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles have strengthened me .... you may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth  may be the best thing in the world for you."

~Walt Disney

Do you agree with my comments?  Have any suggestions on how companies can handle their social media better?  Do you also think that disgruntled customers are going to get louder and louder?  I'd love to hear from you! 

In the meantime, make 2014 your best year ever!


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