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The Power of the Crowd – A Warning to Brands When Managing Their Reputation Online

The Power of the Crowd – A Warning to Brands When Managing Their Reputation Online

Online reputation management is perhaps more crucial now than it ever has been, with the success or failure of your business subject to the popularity of your brand through social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, which did not exist a decade ago.

An example of the power of Facebook to your commercial reputation would be the ‘Boycott Spirit Airlines’ Facebook page. Social media users are rallying around a campaign to boycott the American airline after it refused to refund the cost of a flight to a dying army veteran.

The PR disaster is centred on a 76 year old former marine named Jerry Meekins, who requested a refund on a $197 flight ticket from Florida to New Jersey. The veteran had intended to visit his daughter during a surgery, but was told by his own doctor not to fly due to the terminal esophageal cancer from which he suffers. After Spirit Airlines refused to refund the dying veteran’s ticket cost, a pre-existing ‘Boycott Spirit Airlines’ Facebook Page went from having 700 likes to an incredible 18,000 in less than a week.

The page had been set up in 2010, when the airline announced its plans to charge for checked luggage, but the page has now become a channel for an all new backlash against the brand; a charge lead by members of the military and fellow military veterans.

HitSearch director Andy Redfern commented "Now that such a vast proportion of a brand’s core demographic occupy social media, it can be crucial to manage your reputation via these channels and a failure to do so could result in viral negative PR with a broad reach that it can be hard to recover from."

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