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UnitedAirlinesHave you heard about the United Airlines debacle?  Basically they smashed up a band’s high-end guitar that was checked, and then refused to take responsibility.  The band member promised the UA rep that denied his claim that he would produce 3 videos online about the experience, and the first was recently posted, and now comes up 3rd on Google when you search United Airlines.  Within a week, the video had received 3 million views.  Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

You can read more about it here: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/united-airlines-and-consumer-generated-turbulence/

The lesson here for direct sales companies is the importance of monitoring and customer service in a social media age.  As United Airlines learned to its detriment, ignoring a customer service issue does not make it go away these days.  Social media is “the great equalizer” and people can cause a public relations nightmare for a company if the issue is not addressed.

It is CRITICAL that you monitor your brand, so you know what’s being said, and you can address customer service issues when necessary.  At the very least, you should be checking SocialMention.com daily, and you should have alerts set up.  Gone are the days when things could get pushed under the rug.  You need to be proactive so you know what’s being said by those who KNOW how to use social media tools to get the word out.

United Airlines ignored its social media savvy customers and is now going to have months, or even years, of fallout.  Let this be a cautionary tale, and don’t let this happen to you.

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