February 15 2010

Social Media Is A Tool, Use It

When you can’t get a company to help you with a problem, why shouldn’t you use social media to goad them into finally doing something about your issue?

As I discussed yesterday, movie director Kevin Smith is locked in an all out war with Southwest Airlines over his being thrown off one of its planes over his weight.  You can listen to the whole sordid tale in episode #106 of Smodcast, and while its lengthy, and full of cursing, I highly recommend it to get a much fuller view of what exactly happened.

While it is easy to say, “Well, he has 1.6 million followers on Twitter, of course he got the attention of the company!”, I’m here to say you don’t need anywhere near that many followers to get something done.

In Jan. I was awaiting for a package to be delivered by FedEx Ground, and when the delivery date came, it was snowing, so I gave them a day’s leeway.  I figured it was forgivable, no problem.  When the next day passed without delivery, I tracked it and saw they said it was a weather delayed again.  Okay, fine, I’m willing to give them one more day.

The next day, now two days late, I tracked it in the afternoon and saw that it was again just driving around my town.  I called FedEx to discover what was going on and was informed that it might not make it.  I took to my Twitter account and posted:

#FedEx just sucks beyond all comprehension. Weather delay my behind

If you aren’t familiar with Twitter lingo, by adding the # symbol in front of a word makes it into a hashtag which makes it easier to search for and will alert people who watch for certain terms that a subject is being discussed.  It didn’t take long for me to be contacted by a FedEx employee who looked into it, and he wasn’t able to tell me much more than the national tracking, but he did call the local office which told him they would deliver if they could.

They didn’t.

The next day, the third day my package was driving around my town, I again called the national number and was told the usual excuses about weather, so I again took to my Twitter account and a different FedEx employee was on duty that day.  She went through the same steps with me and after exchanges both on Twitter and via e-mail, she called the local facility and told them that they had to deliver the package that day.

See, the problem with the weather delay excuse was that UPS, the postal service and the garbage truck were all making it to my property, but yet the local FedEx office was claiming my road was impassable.  After three days of this, the Twitter monitoring employees told them they had to deliver it to me that day, no more excuses.  The driver did finally show up, parked down the road, walked to my building, pounded on the door like he wanted to knock it down, left the box on the porch and stormed off before I could even get to the door.

Yes, I finally had my package, but I had to take my argument with the carrier public to accomplish it.  There are people who consider what I did “abusing Twitter”, and how I used “social media as a weapon.”  You know what?  I did, and I’ll do it every time I feel I have no other option.

Lets go down my options here:

I paid for this delivery, it was a gift for someone, and if UPS can make it down my road in their unstable delivery trucks, the small van the FedEx Ground guy drives can make it to me.  I even called the company I bought the item from to see if they could help me, but they were unable to get anything done from their end either.  I was out of options.

So I view Twitter and other social media sites as just another tool in the consumers toolbox to get things done.  There is nothing wrong with using a tool that is at your disposal, and guess what, it got something done.  Yes, the local driver was angry with me, but you know what?  I couldn’t care less.  Oh no, I asked him to do his job, the horrors of it!  I even offered the national number that I would meet the driver somewhere in town to get the package from them, and they refused to set that up.

In the third part of this series, I’ll touch on the subject of if we aren’t supposed to use this, why are they on the networks?

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