Public Figures on Social Media

Any person who is considered a public figure tends to be more heavily scrutinized than the average person. When those public figures then go on social media, where there is a very large audience on each network at a given time, all eyes are on them for everything they say. So when Kanye West had a Twitter feud with Jimmy Kimmel, the media had a field day with it. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone with over 1 million Twitter followers (Kanye and Kimmel have 14 million among the two of them) to hide anything from the media, or have any freedom to truly speak their minds without being criticized.

When people have this many fans on social media, any little thing they say can be blown out of proportion. Even who they follow, or don’t follow on Twitter can cause an uproar. It can cause rumors to be spread and false information to be published all over the internet. Paparazzi might be packed so tightly around their homes or any restaurants that it’s difficult for these people to go anywhere. The commercial implications of the rumored feud between Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy also leaked into their personal lives, with rumors about the two not being paid equally on their show Sam & Cat and the question of who really leaked McCurdy’s racy photos. All this because McCurdy posted a few cryptic messages on Twitter about a former friend being “a leech”.

If I were the social media manager of a public figure, which I am to an extent, I would enourage them to run everything they want to publish on social media through me first. If I’m being paid to post and moderate their social media accounts for them, I need to be able to also give them advice on what is or is not a good idea to say. The beauty of social media is that you can think and craft a perfect response to someone without them seeing the “first draft” of what you really wanted to say. If a public figure has a social media manager, my advice to them would be to bounce ideas off that person instead of posting on instinct. It may be entertaining for the audience to see an unedited rant, but for the public figure, it could ruin his or her reputation.

The golden rule for broadcasters mentioned in this final lecture of the semester was “if you wouldn’t say it on air, do not tweet it.” This can certainly be applied to my future brand of critic. I am blunt and brutally honest most times. I’m hoping my brand will grow big enough that I am in public figure status one day. I would never say anything in any of my blog posts that I wouldn’t want to post on social media. I own up to every critique I make and I will make sure that whatever I say does not reflect poorly on myself or on any public figure I may critique.

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Moderating Anger

This week’s lesson in moderation can be very easily coupled with the lesson in reputation management. Both have a similar outcome, which is to respond to, and if necessary delete, comments from angry consumers in a timely manner that will hopefully resolve the issue. For this assignment, I am acting as a moderator for a fast food chain and a mainstream news network and I will be dealing with angry comments left on their social media pages. These are not real examples and are not directed towards any specific companies or people.

To a fast food chain:

“I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

My response:

“Thank you for informing me of this situation, someone will look into it. I can assure you that this restaurant tries its very best to keep up with health codes and keep our appearance as clean as possible. This includes the kitchen and the dining area. If what you are saying turns out to be true, I apologize behalf of the restaurant that you had to experience that. You may have noticed the trash when our staff was unable to clean up the tables right away. Our cashiers may have been putting in orders or assisting other customers and didn’t have a chance to clean the counter at the time that you entered. Regardless, thank you for the input and we will strive to do better in the future.”

To a mainstream news network (let us assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides):

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

My response:

I would have to remove this comment from the page because of the obscene/profane language used. However, I would try to message the user privately to explain why the comment needed to be removed. If the user still wanted to complain about the report, I would listen and try to prove that all of the reporting on the network is balanced in a very calm way. However, I feel that the user would not want to continue communication with me or the organization once the comment was removed. The most important thing is removing the comment so very few audience members, if any, would see it. Any other correspondence depends on how the user reacts to the comment being removed.

You Break It, A Video Makes You Buy It

As an audience member watching Dave Carroll’s music video for “United Breaks Guitars,” I was thoroughly entertained. If I were an Online Reputation Manager for United Airlines, I would be embarrassed that the problem had escalated to this level. Because of this incident, I would not only have to fix the reputation of United Airlines in Carroll’s view, but for the entire audience that also watched the video.

First let’s focus on the most important person in this situation, Dave Carroll. Without even knowing the full story, I would sincerely apologize to him for what he has gone through. I might tell him an anecdote of a less than ideal experience I have had on a plane to let him know that I understand the frustration he is feeling. Then I would reassure him that the next time he flew with United, someone would see to it that his luggage was handled with care when it is loaded onto the plane. I would also try to find out who he spoke to during his request and find out if they acted under the current policy of United Airlines. If not, I would make sure the people in charge were made aware of the situation so they could reprimand the employees who didn’t act properly.

United would gladly reimburse Carroll for the guitar that was damaged or replace it altogether, as well as extra compensation for the year that it took for this problem to be resolved. The compensation can be ethically justified because United was not swift in trying to fix the issue. I would ask Dave Carroll if there was anything else United Airlines could do for him. I might consider asking for his input on how we can handle these types of situations if they were ever to come up again. Finally, I would check in with him via social media occasionally to see if he had received his compensation and if he was satisfied with the outcome of this problem.

As for the United Airlines audience who viewed this video, it might be difficult to salvage the reputation of the airline in their eyes. I would release a public statement on social media, stating that we apologize for the delay, we are working with Carroll to resolve the issue and anyone else having an issue is encouraged to contact us. I would inform the audience that we are training our current and new luggage handlers to be more careful so we can prevent another incident like this in the future. I would not grovel, but I would also say that I hope this incident does not change the minds of the audience to choose United Airlines for their future travels.

Saving Your Reputation On Social Media

As a budding music critic, I need to prepare myself to receive and properly handle negative criticism. Not everyone is going to like what I say, but I would need to make sure that my reputation with the rest of my audience stays intact. Handling people on social media who have negative things to say about your brand or company can be very tricky. British Airways learned that the hard way when a follower on Twitter, who goes by the handle @HVSVN, sent them a negative tweet. This person went one step further by paying to have the tweet promoted, so more people than just his followers and the followers for British Airways would see it.

BA Tweet

There are many ways to go about rectifying this issue, but not all of them are ethically sound. First of all, British Airways would need to ask this person what the problem is and apologize in advance for any stress that may have been caused. In the case of @HVSVN, whose real name is Hasan Syed, his bags were lost on a recent British Airways flight. If I were responding on behalf of British Airways, I may even apologize that his tweet was not answered until the next morning, but also kindly remind him that the hours of operation for British Airways’ Twitter account is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. as it states in the biography of the account.

I believe British Airways handled gathering his luggage information in an ethical manner, by asking that Syed send it to them via direct message on Twitter. Once the information was received, I would keep Syed up-to-date on any new information we acquired regarding the bag. Once the bag was located and shipped, I would have informed Syed of when he should expect his luggage to arrive at his address. A few days after the luggage was due to arrive, if I hadn’t heard from Syed, I would have followed up with him via Twitter to make sure the luggage had arrived safely. Then I would make sure that he knew that British Airways would do their best to make sure his bags were not lost next time he flies with us.

I also think that British Airways did the right thing by releasing a statement to the media. Specific details were left out, but the public was reassured of British Airways’ good reputation, if it was clouded by the negative tweet. This way the matter with the luggage was dealt with privately with Syed, but the public still got closure on the situation. What I would not do is offer Syed any more compensation other than the returned luggage. If others found out about extra compensation and were not offered the same thing if it happens to them or happened to them in the past, it could ruin British Airways’ reputation even more.

Hopefully my brand never has to deal with anything this difficult or public with any member of my audience. But if it does, I would handle it in a more timely manner than British Airways.