The argument was that they were not dressed “appropriately”. The girls (one of them was 10 years old) were wearing bathing suits. The agent insistently asked them to change into more appropriate clothes.
Another passenger, who was watching the scene, started to tweet about the situation. Minutes later, he got a response from United — through a tactless on. Both passengers nd Twitter users knew the agent was behaving in a sexist way. The company’s tweets were inappropriate in that complex situation, proving that United did not know how to handle the problem.
Being able to properly respond to this kind of situations can be crucial for a brand. These days, social networks are places where you can build an interactive brand experience. Touchpoints. Points of contact between consumers and a brand. However, it has not always been like this.
In the last fifteen years, a new way of interacting with the internet has emerged within the digital media. There was a breaking point towards 2003–2004: two platforms were created, which shaped the way we interact with new technologies — MySpace y Facebook, respectively.
What exactly did this change consist in? In the popularization of a specific use of the Internet: the consumption of stories. It is true that this cultivation of the love for the narrative modified our way of socializing. However, the most important part of this story is how it changed brands — and their relationship with their audience.
Social media pervaded all discourse spheres and became fundamental to different ways of communication: government relationships, public politics, advertising, institutional communication, and customer service
s. In the beginning, it was a channel through which businesses and brands could express what they wanted to say. In a way, social media allowed for the rebirth of the corporative narrative.
Today, it is no longer an advertising channel. It is a conversation. In real time.
Going back to United: today, social media teams not only need to answer in real time, but they must think beyond their desks. They represent the brand at a larger scale than any other agent.
They are a contact point between the customer and the brand. A contact point that develops the image the customer has of the brand.
As brand touchpoints, network management exceeds the narrative function. Brands must show uninterrupted availability. (A prediction made by the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs for 2016 affirms that brands would need to install entire centers dedicated to social media management.) But they also need to satisfy presence parameters — through interactive and satisfactory management.
Almost one-third of the world population uses social networks on a daily basis. According to Social Media Examiner, over 50% of the Marketing divisions that have implemented the use of social media to communicate for at least two year, have reported a sales increase. Social Networks matter, and so does understanding the new ways in which they work.