The WSJ has a nice article on successful use of Twitter (and Facebook) by major brands to get customer feedback and/or diffuse tension and potentially negative PR episodes. It offers several cases in which rapid response, based on information or feedback gleaned from Twitter reshaped customer perceptions for the better.
One morning last December, Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media, saw Twitter messages alerting him to online comments criticizing Ford for allegedly trying to shut a fan Web site, TheRangerStation.com. The dispute prompted about 1,000 email complaints to Ford overnight.
Mr. Monty, who joined Ford the previous July from an advisory firm specializing in social media, didn’t wait to learn the facts. He posted messages on his Twitter page, and Ford’s, saying he was looking into the matter, adding frequent updates.
Within hours, he reported that Ford’s lawyers believed the site was selling counterfeit goods with Ford’s logo. He persuaded Ford’s lawyers to withdraw the shut-down request if the site would halt the sales. By the end of the day, he Tweeted that the dispute had been resolved.
For a long time consultants and experts in the social media space used lots of obfuscating jargon and dressed up common sense to justify large fees to companies that thought they needed to be educated about this new “social web” or “Web 2.0” world. Barely a step ahead of basic insight, they kept talking about managing brand reputation or “buzz” or “influencing influencers” — blah, blah, blah.
This WSJ article and other similar cases illustrate very directly and clearly how Twitter in particular can be used to gain customer feedback and tap into potential PR issues. And if the company acts quickly and is sincere about resolution, potential damage can be turned to advantage.