The power of social media can bring uncaring companies to heel


The power of the Internet can bring companies that don’t care to heel when customers use social media to broadcast their gripes.

You may have heard the story about an Olive Garden restaurant in Oxford, Ala., that refused to allow the Kiwanis Club to fly an American flag at a meeting. The story went viral after going out on Facebook. In a flash, Olive Garden had to apologize and revamp their corporate policy to allow the flag to fly.

Then there was a Marriott in St. Augustine, Fla., that fired an employee for wearing an American flag lapel pin while on the job. That story took on a life of its own with the help of the Internet. I haven’t heard the resolution of this one yet, though.

The airlines have also been called out for their wrongdoings thanks to social media coverage. Delta got hammered for ripping off soldiers returning from Afghanistan with huge baggage fees when they were coming back from the war front.

That story blew up on YouTube, but only prompted a pitiful response from Delta at first. They have since amended their ways, apologized and changed their policy.

Likewise, JetBlue got crucified for leaving passengers stranded at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., hour after hour with no access to water or working toilets. This despite there being a federal law in place that caps such tarmac waits at three hours.

So you had a story that might have only made local headlines in the past. But with the Internet, people were able to send out pleas while they were on the tarmac and it became a national story while the passengers were still being held hostage!

The Internet offers you power against big corporations. Not every gripe that somebody posts has merit; the public will decide if you’re whining or not. But if it is legitimate, it will likely take off.

Companies that could quietly avoid problems now have to face them and serve the customer.

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