Putting Out Social Fires

Social media can spread good news or bad news about a company like wild fire across the internet. The real trick is to figure out how to keep the fires contained and quickly put them out. By acting in real time to put out social media wild fires, companies can learn from the situation and make a better name for themselves.

Recently, Hampton Toyota experienced the wild fires of social media first hand. Here’s a brief synopsis of what took place.  One of Hampton’s customers who came in to get their car serviced claimed that one of the employees had taken money from their car. The stealing occurred on several occasions, and was even brought to the attention of one of the service managers.  After complaining several times, with no response, the employee placed a video camera in their car, which caught employee’s stealing money from the car. The customer posted the videos on YouTube and sent a copy to the dealer.  It sounds like an uncontrollable wild fire. However, what the Hampton Toyota dealer did next tamed the wild fire.

The Hampton Toyota dealer took action. He contacted the customer, apologized for the lack of integrity on the employee’s part and in fact, some of the employees were terminated.  He then placed a video on YouTube explaining what happened and how Hampton Toyota had taken steps to resolve the situation. What was turning out to be a disaster was quickly changed to a positive. The Hampton Toyota dealer used social media to put out the wild fire.

There’s a proverbial saying, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond.” The dealer of Hampton Toyota responded correctly. Not only did he rectify the situation with the customer, he effectively addressed the situation with his social media audience. The dealer was able to show that they cared about their customers as well as the social audience.  They were able to put out the social media fire, instead of letting it consume them.

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