It’s interesting to think that somehow, someone, somewhere can damage a company’s brand reputation through a home-made movie or an angry tweet… well this is true and exactly what can happen through the use of social media.
A great example of this is Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars video which has now been watched 9.23 million times. His video was a backlash against United Airlines who damaged his expensive guitar whilst he was on one of their flights. Dave complained and got no where with the airline who appeared not to care, so from his frustration he created a video to convey his anger and concerns.
Less than a few months after the video had been created, the airline had a massive public relations crisis on their hands, as not only did Dave’s video highlight the bad response of the airline in a creative and funny way, but more people then came forward to vent their frustrations online too. This caused the whole idea to snowball out of control.
I think the obvious change in the media environment is the blurred boundaries between ‘news’ and ‘social media’. The significance between a front-page news story damaging a company’s brand and one persons voice are no longer different – all it takes is one Tweet, one video one Facebook post to catch the attention of others and it can cause a PR disaster!
On the other hand, social media can be beneficial or disastrous for employees or job-seekers. As much as we are watching what companies do, they are also watching us! Our online footprint can be tracked and followed so being careful about what we write and how we write it is crucial. There have been many examples which show individuals slagging their bosses off on Facebook and getting caught out, but then there is many examples of individuals gaining jobs through their online work.
Social media tools are very accessible and therefore not easily monitored. This can create problems for both companies and the general public alike because anyone from anywhere can mimic a company by calling themselves by that company name. A great example of this is the fake Birmingham National Express Twitter account called Travel_WM which has been set up by someone other than the valid company itself. They are damaging the reputation of the company through tweets as shown below. The account looks valid as they have even used company logos and added company details into the description boxes, therefore people believe it’s real – and why shouldn’t they! However, the tweets that are being displayed on the account are not beneficial for the Birmingham travel company.
This range of examples show the changing environment we all now sit within, whether we are a company a consumer or both we are all effected by the social media and we should all learn to acknowledge it and embrace it where possible. If working for a company, traditional or not, we need to understand how social media can effect the reputation, brand and workings. There is a lot of trial and error happening, but we are fast learners and keeping on top of the new social media trends will allow PR professionals to help their clients and themselves out in situation which will occur.