The argument was that they were not dressed “appropriately”. The girls, one of them only 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 comment. Though both passengers and Twitter users knew the agent was behaving in a sexist way, the company’s tweets were inappropriate in such a complex situation, proving that United did not know how to handle the problem.
Responding appropriately to these kinds of situations can be crucial for a brand. Social networks are places where you can build an interactive brand experience — Touchpoints. Points of contact between consumers and a brand. Though it has not always worked this way
In the last fifteen years, a new way of interacting with the internet has emerged alongside digital media. There was a breaking point towards 2003–2004 when two platforms were created — MySpace y Facebook, respectively, which would forever change the way we interact with new technologies.
What exactly did this change consist of? The internet being used to communicate and consume stories. However, the most important part of this change is how it transformed the relationship that brands have with their audience.
Social media cut through previously established chains of communication, becoming fundamental to the formation of different ways of communication in: government relationships, public politics, advertising, institutional communication, and customer service. In the beginning, it was a channel by which businesses and brands could express what they wanted to say, allowing for the rebirth of their corporate narrative.
Today, it is no longer an advertising channel. It is a conversation — in real time.
Getting back to United, the social media teams of today not only need to answer in real time, but they must think beyond their desks. They represent the brand to the audience more than any other agent.
They are the contact point between the customer and the brand, developing the image the customer has of the brand.
As brand touchpoints, social 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 by way of 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.