A Perfect Example of “What Not To Do” in Social Networking

Submitted by Pat Pepe

A Perfect Example of “What Not To Do” in Social Networking….
…And The ‘Painful’ Truth of ‘Anti-Social’ Behavior in the Business World

I was reading a recent blog post from Matt Cutts. For the uninitiated, Matt is a well-respected google employee who maintains a widely read blog where he shares his insights on google, search spam and many other topics related to e-commerce, search and business.

The post I was reading had to do with his frustration over a bad experience with US Airways Dividend Miles . Normally I might have skimmed right over that post, but since I too have a ton of US Airways Dividend Miles, I took a look.

The story was very interesting. Matt had a bunch of unused miles that were expiring. Instead of using them to fly, he decided to cash them in for some magazine subscriptions. To make a long story short – none of the 8 magazine subscriptions were filled and he lost his 15,000 Dividend Miles.

Ouch.

Good job, US Airways. Way to take care of your most valuable asset – your repeat customers.

I have an interest in social networking as it relates to businesses and reputation management, so I was curious to see if his blog post had been mentioned anywhere on Twitter. It had – Matt tweeted when he published his blog post and it was re-tweeted about 8 more times.

Matt Cutts Tweeting About US Airways

Then I checked to see how US Airways responded on Twitter to that post and the subsequent Re-tweets.

…..crickets……

Nothing. No response about ANYTHING from US Airways.

US Airways doesn’t have a presence on Twitter. OK, that’s not completely accurate. They have a presence, but it’s a pretty ‘anti-social’ presence. In fact, since US
Airways secured their name on Twitter, they’ve tweeted a total of 3 times. All on the same day which was more than 6 months ago when a US Airways plane landed in the Hudson River in NY. Remember that day?

US Airways Popular Twitter Page

Once again out of curiosity, I checked to see how many tweets have mentioned US Airways (in a good or bad light) in the last 24 hours. I counted about 40 tweets directed @usairways and an additional 400 or so that mentioned US Airways.

Most were news stories like these:

US Airways on Twitter News Stories

Some were positive mentions:

US Airways on Twitter - Happy Customers

(Perfect time 4 yr honeymoon or wedding in the Caribbean. Jetblue, American, USairways gr8 rates)

But most of the ones that were sent to @usairways were negative:

US Airways on Twitter - Not So Happy Customers
(USAirways is sucky pooh. stuck in Philly on my way to Newark, flight delayed 3hours no reason given, clear skies above)

Not one response from a US Airways employee.

Can I tell you how much they are missing out on here? Where do I even begin? The opportunities to connect with their customers are endless. The chances to right a wrong are being handed to them on a silver platter. But no sign of US Airways. Their employees must be off somewhere munching on all the tasty goodies they always pass out to their customers in Coach.

So now here is where the story gets REALLY GOOD….or EVEN WORSE, if you’re US Airways.

Take a look at US Airways Facebook Fan Page. Apparently, US Airways employees might be in need of some immediate help in the social networking space.

One response from a US Airways staffer to a customer complaint:

Sofia, Im sorry you had to go through that but…. this IS a U.S Airways FAN PAGE and your negative comments aren’t welcome here.. this page is for fans of US Airways and is NOT to be used as a complaint hotline.If you feel so strongly against… us perhaps stay in Canada and fly your local airlines…… THANX.
June 2, 2008 at 8:12am


US Airways Facebook ONLY FANS ALLOWED

O….M….G

Can you imagine someone in your company publicly responding to a customer comment like that? And that remark has been left up on that page for over one solid year. I am outraged, and I’m not even related to Doug Parker, CEO of US Airways.

For the record, that ‘don’t let the door hit you on the way out’ remark is one of only 4 comments ever posted by US Airways on their Facebook Fan Page in response to dozens of comments left for them.

Do you get the feeling that US Airways has forgotten to join the rest of the world in the 21st century? Customers are out there talking. They’re talking about businesses. They are probably talking about YOUR business. It is incumbent on businesses to respond (…in a civil manner…) and make every effort to manage (…not destroy…) their reputation.

The employee that responded to that Facebook comment? They should be removed from their position. STAT.

US Airways, repeat after me: We COMMUNICATE with our customers. We DIALOGUE WITH THEM on social networking sites. We DON’T SLAM customers in public; we ACKNOWLEDGE OUR MISTAKES AND CORRECT them. And, above all, we don’t leave our mistakes up on Facebook for the world to see.

Ouch.

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