United Breaks Guitars

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The “United Breaks Guitars” is… hilarious. What a clever and fun way of expressing an issue! I am sure it caught United’s attention. The combination of his musical prowess, access to the means to create such a video, and his following really took this video to the next viral level. While all of those attributed to its creation and success, United could have handled things in a very different way to minimize the damage and turn the situation into an opportunity.

The effects of the video were compounded by United’s lack of social media presence at the time, and by their request for the video to be removed (Social Media 101: never delete negative feedback!). At that point, the video was a huge internet success and was not going anywhere.

Here are some of my ideas on how United could have managed the situation more efficiently:

1. Beef up the social media presence and work with customers to meet their needs. United apparently has a 24 hour window limit in which customers can report any dissatisfaction or issues. This seems to be an oddly small time frame. Sometimes our travel adventures last more than 24 hours (and that’s just time spent in airports and on planes). Sometimes our travels take us to places where internet is spotty and phone calls are expensive. Sometimes we just want to enjoy our vacations without spending a large amount of time on hold with customer service, etc. If United really wanted to appease customers and right their wrongs, then the 24-hour window would not be in place.

2. Use the video to their advantage. Despite the bad press of the video, it truly is clever, funny, and entertaining. United could make their own video parody of Carroll’s video, work the song into a new jingle for a commercial, or even hire Carroll to write another song for them/star in a commercial. Make amends with the guitar owners and explain the brand’s point of view and policies on these matters.

3. Make amends in a big way. From a PR standpoint, United could have done something really meaningful. For example: donate 100 new guitars to music centers for children, etc.

In general, I think that United could have handled the situation with a little more grace and a little more “human”. The situation, though clearly not ideal, was something that could be managed in a way that would have been positive for the company.

Reputations and Complainers

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“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do” – Henry Ford

In this week’s lecture, we were presented with an British Airways social media emergency: a (very) angry man sent out a promoted tweet describing British Airway’s customer service as “horrendous.” Dramatic? Yes. To take to Twitter to vent about poor customer service is one thing, but to promote the tweet causing it to go viral is another. What happened that was so horrendous? Honestly, I am dying to know. However, on the flip side: kudos to this guy for making the most out of Twitter’s ad platform, and social media in general. This is a great example for other social media users (and a great lesson for British Airways) on how to use social platforms to reach a very large audience, essentially becoming an influencer through one ad. British Airways response came much later, citing social media office hours, and promising to look into the matter. I don’t think this was the best way of handling the situation. A large company should have some sort of social media management at all hours, if not just hours that people are flying.   The response also lacked a sincere apology. Perhaps they could have responded along the lines of:

“We’re sorry for the delay in response -we have been looking into the matter. Your satisfaction is important. We’re displeased to hear that you had a poor experience. Please DM us to remedy the situation.”

I think a genuine, sincere response is key in trying to remedy the situation. At this point, what will make this man happy? Frequent flyer miles? A free flight? Nothing? British Airways has a lot of making up to do in order to make this man a public supporter of the brand again, but I am not sure giving him anything (especially publicly) is the best way to reward a public outburst like that. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to announce a modification of their customer service or social media policy.

Another way they could reach out to him is through the follow up. I love the idea of reminding dissatisfied customers that you are still thinking of their problem and wanting to make sure they are still happy.

Have you ever complained to a company and been rewarded? (Confession: I emailed Delta once after a cross-country flight on a plane with only one working bathroom and was rewarded with a large amount of Skymiles.)

Do you feel that public complaints that involve lashing out really deserve a reward?

Thrillist, The Voice of a Generation (of Bros)

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Thrillist is a men’s e-newsletter/online magazine with a very “bro” voice. To quote the website, “We’re not going to waste our time or yours with things that suck — you already have your job for that. So we don’t write reviews, just recommendations, and because we painstakingly wade through the crap to unearth greatness, you get exclusively the best of your city’s food, drinks, gear, services, entertainment, travel options, and events, like booze cruises, and a divine concept surely birthed on a booze cruise — stripper cruises.”

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Thrillist dishes on booze, bros, and burgers.

I think the target audience is clear. However, that doesn’t keep decidedly girly-girls Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.15.36 PM(like myself) from being drawn into their honest, accurate recommendations and interesting and applicable articles. Almost all of the content that Thrillist posts to social media directly links back to their website and featured articles or blog posts. However, the content is presented uniquely on each channel. The tone is always conversational.  I chose to profile Thrillist because though our brands our quite different, our approach is largely the same.  If my brand is dishing with the gals over a boozy brunch, Thrillist is locker room talk with your tightest bros.  Each provides a sense of camaraderie, trust, and familiarity.  Who else besides a friend would tell you to “relax” when discussing a potential shut down of the Sriracha Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.14.17 PMfactory?  Only a true bro. What Thrillist lacks in clean professionalism, they make up for in realness.  This is a brand that accurately identifies the target market and buyer persona and markets specifically and directly to that man.  Thrillist also writes largely positive article with catchy, interesting, and engaging titles.  Readers are compelled to not only click-through, but also share with their friends and co-workers. Thrillist uses Instagram to share content that is not necessarily directly driving traffic towards the website.  Enormous burgers, epic sundaes, bacon filled cocktails, and other manly eats are featured on daily, often tying into #FatKidFridays and other satirical hashtag trends. Though I think that Thrillist under utilizes Twitter as a tool for engagement, they are more active on Facebook, replying with short, sweet and humorous answers to questions and comments.

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Bathroom and locker room humor at its best on Thrillist’s Facebook.

Overall, Thrillist embraces its voice and runs with it.  To me, this embodies an honest, believable, and human voice.  Kudos to Thrillist for making themselves a niche market that still appeals across gender.

Human Voice

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An authentic, human voice on social media is important. I particularly prefer to engage on social media with brands who feel like a friend, or at least a real person (as opposed to canned Public Relations responses). I think this is the real value in what we are studying, and companies who embrace the need for a position or employee or team designated to social media will ultimately have the upper hand. Not only does it provide an efficient way to quickly respond to feedback, it also allows their “voice” to become human and relatable.

KLM’s guarantee of feedback within the hour is awesome, but unrealistic for companies that can’t employ a 24-hour team to deal with such issues. I applaud them for their devotion, but I do still feel like their responses are largely canned, simply directing their followers to the website to file complaints. People largely take to social media for instant gratification and feedback. I know I would have to be supremely dissatisfied to take the time or make the effort to file a complaint online.

At The Pink Petticoat, I manage all the social media. Therefore, the voice is very human: it’s my own. I try to talk to customers on social media just as I do in the store – like they are my best girlfriends. I ask if they are celebrating a special occasion, going on a romantic getaway, in a new relationship, etc. While I keep the conversation a little less intimate online, I do make efforts to keep it somewhat personal. I do my fair share of selling, too, but I think that is part of the game when you are dealing with retail. It’s impossible for me to share merchandise without some aspect of selling. But I like to think of it more as selling a lifestyle, or experience, or idea (of romance, love, sex, etc.).

 

Brands I Trust

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Being trustworthy is of great importance to me. I want my friends, family, and customers, even strangers to feel a sense of trust when they meet me in person and interact with me online. My personal social media accounts are largely private, as I do not want to trust the wrong people with access to my information, photos, and friends. I am always surprised by people who have everything wide open, full disclosure, the ultimate action in trust. Because I value trust so highly, I am also not quick to trust – it is something that truly must be earned. I only follow a few brands on social media for content that goes beyond the occasional flash sale. I appreciate brands that use social media to engage, correct mistakes and wrongdoings, and manage and foster relationships with those loyal to the brand. J. Crew always sticks out to me as a trustworthy brand with a strong social media presence that they use for good.

J. Crew uses each platform of social media to connect with a different user and customer. Their posts go beyond sales and new merchandise, but also encompass a greater lifestyle of casual living. Currently, they are highlighting beach days and summer living. J. Crew has over 1.2 million likes on Facebook and over 259,000 followers on Twitter. The certification and accountability of so many followers makes it easier to give my trust to a company. More than 30 of my friends on Facebook “like” J. Crew. This form or recommendation carries a lot of weight in giving trust away.

J. Crew even has a specific Twitter account simply to interact with customers and ease the pain of returns, deal with issues, and accept praise. Because I am so aware of social media use and CRM through social media, brands that interact with customers regularly, quickly, and efficiently on social platforms already have a leg up in the trust department.

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Because J. Crew has my trust, not only am I more likely to shop in their stores and trough their website, but I am also more likely to recommend them to friends. The ease of purchase, the friendliness of the staff, and the level of interaction online are all worth recommending.

I recently had an experience with J. Crew through their online help “chat” window. I missed a flash sale by a few hours, but the woman I chatted with graciously extended it for me, and gave me free shipping! I was quick to share my happiness on social media. After all, what it is the point of everything we are learning if we can’t pay it forward?

Trust

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I place a lot of value on trust in my personal relationships, meaning those that transcend an online presence and include “real life”. How can our relationships thrive without trust? Online and in social media, trust is also important, but perhaps not equally as important. Trust on social media is more difficult to give and receive. The anonymity and veil of secrecy in online and social media personas eliminates a truly personal connection that would inspire real trust. However, I do think that this “online trust” is important and necessary in branding and business.

I have trust (get it?) in Steve Rayson’s Trust Formula. While I am not sure an emotional feeling like trust can be equated in a formula, I do feel that the elements in the formula are all key. One element that was omitted (though it may fall under authority) is brand recognition. Strong brands are trustworthier, even being vouched for by “verified” status on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The brands/accounts that I trust the most are verified and accountable. They don’t post stories without fact checking, the correct themselves when mistakes happen, and they have attentive and responsive CRM. I think self-promotion is inevitable, and a large part of social media. The key to self-promotion is not being annoying while self-promoting. If anyone knows the formula for non-annoying self-promotion, please, let me know.

For my own brand, intimacy takes on a different meaning. It definitely goes beyond friendliness and incorporates more authority. Women trust me to fit them for their most intimate clothing items, which require a lot of trust and faith, in the brand, the experience, and myself. If I tweak the meaning of intimacy to skew slightly more towards a womanly meaning, than Rayson’s formula is spot on for me.

 

 

Snapchat

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Snapchat is a photo sharing (with a recently added messaging component) that operates under the security that each picture sent is only viewable for a certain amount of time, and then it vanishes forever. Originally created as a “safe sexing app”, Snapchat lets you share photos that you would never, well, share, on Facebook, Instagram, or any other photo-sharing site. The ethical issue is that it is promoted as safe. Each image disappears after 10 seconds. You are notified if someone takes a screen cap. But in actuality, like all things on the Internet, everything is store; information is gathered, and likely sold.

Snapchat’s Terms of Use is available here, but Andrew Couts breaks down Snapchat’s Terms of Use quite well in his article on Digital Trends.  I’ll summarize him here:

The terms of use are pretty straightforward. Snapchat lays out the terms, and tells you not to use the app if you aren’t on board. Snapchat also reserves the right to change the terms whenever they want, and will notify you, somehow. Maybe an email, maybe a Push Notification, maybe a pop up when you

Snapchat wants you to have fun, and use common sense. Don’t snap copyrighted material, don’t spam or harass.

Snapchat is for users over 13 years old (though they have a similar app for children).

Snapchat makes all users release them from all liability, including the unfortunate likelihood that someone will use a private photo against you. Snapchat even caps the amount that you can sue for at $1. This is all listed under their “Limitation of Liability Clause”.

Snapchat collects a significant amount of information and may share it with third parties. Yikes.

Snapchat “temporarily process and store your images in order to provide our services.” That includes any (ahem) personal pictures you may take.

“Although we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted, we cannot guarantee that the message contents will be deleted in every case.” Again – Yikes.

 It appears that there are a lot of negative aspects to Snapchat and that their policies dance on the side of unethical. Joseph Steinberg writes on Forbes, “The illusion of security provided by Snapchat may be even more problematic, as it may encourage risky behavior. If people think that their private photos and videos can be shared in a manner that is truly self-destructing (as has been ingrained thanks to movies such as the Mission Impossible series) they are more likely to send them to others. This is especially true for teenagers – notorious for sexting and over sharing.”

Snapchat is encouraging users to share private photos, by giving them the false assurance that photos expire and then are gone forever. The service isn’t as private as it claims to be.

Do you Snapchat? Do you think the amount of scandalous content that is shared through Snapchat is reason enough to change their terms of service?

Also, don’t you think people should lay off the naked pic already?!

Terms & Conditions

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Admittedly, I almost never read the fine print or terms and conditions on basically everything. The only exception to this is when I make online purchases – I pour over the return policy to make sure that I will not be stuck with something that doesn’t work, or worse, doesn’t fit.

I don’t think that I am in the minority. Everyday, I watch people purchase items at my boutique and sign their receipt without reading the fine print. After one too many customers who are left frustrated when they try to exchange or return something that is final sale, I have now taken to verbally reciting my return policy to each customer before I swipe their credit card. Often, they reconsider the purchase when told the terms.

Honestly, after reading the official terms and conditions of Facebook, I wish someone had read this out loud to me before I signed on as a user as well. In response, I have taken Professor Kings challenge to re-write Facebook’s terms and conditions to be a little more user friendly. NOTE: I deleted sections that went largely unchanged and bolded additions, rewordings, and struck through eliminations. As I am in the process of re-negotiating my business lease, I may have been a little heavy handed on the strike through. My over all goals were for Facebook to provide some guarantee and safety and take responsibility for monitoring activity and content.

  • You maintain rights and ownership to your IP – even if you have deleted the content and other users have not!
  • When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone that you are Facebook friends with, but NOT people off of Facebook, to see, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).
  • We will not allow you, or anyone else to do any of the following:
  • Post-unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook or you will be kicked off.
  • develop or operate a third-party application containing alcohol-related, dating or other mature content (including advertisements) without appropriate age-based restrictions.
  • If you select a username or similar identifier for your account or Page, we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe it is appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user’s actual name).
 

We will not allow you, or anyone else to post anyone else’s personal information.

You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.

WE WILL KEEP FACEBOOK UP, BUG-FREE, AND SAFE.  WE DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT FACEBOOK WILL ALWAYS BE SAFE, SECURE OR ERROR-FREE OR THAT FACEBOOK WILL ALWAYS FUNCTION WITHOUT DISRUPTIONS, DELAYS OR IMPERFECTIONS.

Ethical Motivations

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As a Religious Studies major, I took many classes in undergrad about or related to ethics. At the time, I simply enjoyed them for the debates and conversations they inspired amongst my classmates (and I hope this class does the same). Now, I realize the importance of ethics as a businesswoman, and hope to continue to expand on them as a student of social media.

The “gray area” of ethics is what makes it so interesting. Would you? Could you? And why? These are all questions that are completely subjective – truly at the discretion of each of us as individuals within our moral landscape.

Professor Kings broke down the steps of the ethical decision making process into 3 key questions:

  1. What are your motivations and why?
  2. What are the likely effects of your decision and to whom?
  3. Where does your duty lie strongest in making this decision?

The questions posed are fair, and can certainly encourage the decision maker to look at the motivations and potential results of each decision. However, I am not sure that many (if not most) people have the true ability to make these real self-assessments honestly. I know that when I want to do something, I am usually able to convince myself that I should do it. I would venture to say that most people could easily justify their own actions based on their own agenda.

In the video shared in lecture, a professor asks his class whether or not it is ethical to send a Facebook friend request to a friend of a murder victim without identifying yourself as a journalist, with the intention of getting more information about the story. Let me start off by saying that unlike many of my classmates, I do not work in journalism or broadcasting. That being said, I do think that it is unethical to misrepresent you, or improperly identify yourself, in order to get a story. In this specific case, the friend of the murder victim is likely grieving and their privacy should be respected. How would you feel if you received a friend request from a journalist in a time of personal tragedy? Would you be more inclined to accept a friend request from an unidentified stranger or an identified journalist?

The motivations behind the friend request would likely be self-serving, even if the journalist justified it as utilitarianism by providing the story to the inquiring masses. Again, I do not work in journalism, so my views may be biased, but I think it is impossible to really take the egoism out of these types of breaking stories and other sensational stories. Regardless of the fact that you are trying to share a story with the masses, you still want to be “the ONE” that broke the story. Perhaps by opinion is skewed by watching too many episodes of House of Cards over the break. A question for those in journalism: How much of journalism is for the glory of the story and how much is for personal glory?

More About Me

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Hi all, I’m Lesley Geyer and this is my third semester in the Masters of Communication – Social Media program at the University of Florida.

I’m am a native to Tampa, Florida – born and raised. I graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with my bachelor of arts in Religious Studies and Business. After college, I moved back to Tampa and worked in the corporate world for a few years before opening my own business in 2008. The Pink Petticoat is an internationally recognized luxury lingerie boutique, located in South Tampa. Last year, I was honored to be named a finalist in Intima Magazine’s Best of Shop Awards, an awards ceremony recognizing the best independently owned and operated lingerie and swim boutiques in the world.  I recently received a nomination for this year, and am excited to attend again (and hopefully win)!  Outside of day to day shop operations and buying duties, I also run The Pink Petticoat’s social media accounts.  Since starting this program, I also manage the social media accounts for 3 other businesses and act as a consultant for 2 others.  

Before starting this program, I felt pretty social media savvy.  However, I continue to learn new ways to promote my personal and professional brand and drive traffic and sales in my store.  My favorite part of social media is communicating directly with my customers, as I have recently taken a pretty large step back in my hours present at the store.  I look forward to continuing to learn and develop as a social media and business professional!

In my (limited) free time, I love to travel, spend time on the water (boating, fishing, SCUBA, anything!), and with our 2 dogs, Marla (a Boston Terrier) and Taylor (a Black Labrador).  

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