Note from the editor: This is the first of a two-part series on helping the victims of another company’s social media crisis and providing them with a solution to their problem. Read the second part of this series here.
A crisis is a hectic time for everybody involved. But what about when you’re not involved? What if the crisis is happening to a competitor, or a brand within a complimentary niche or industry, is there a way to help the victims of such a crisis and position your brand in an opportune position?
It’s a tricky technique with it’s own set of rules and guidelines, but the answer is most definitely yes! And although it’s a rare opportunity, the brands who master this strategy end up gaining in exposure, new customers and a higher sales volume.
Talk about a rare opportunity to take full advantage of!
How Taylor Guitars leveraged the United Airlines crisis to their own unique advantage
One of the most ingenious brands to accomplish this is Taylor Guitars, who did so at the time of the United Airlines social media crisis back in 2008.
A brief synopsis of the United Airlines social media crisis
Back in 2008, singer/songwriter, Dave Carroll was on board a United Airlines plane when he looked out his window to see the baggage staff mindlessly throwing around his equipment.
When the flight landed, Dave checked his equipment and sure enough his Taylor Guitar had been broken, resulting in $1,200 worth of repairs. Dave spent months contacting United Airlines trying to get them to own up to their actions and pay for the damages made to his guitar, but each time he spoke with someone he got redirected and told that he was speaking with the wrong person – to contact someone else. Finally, after 9 months of calling and getting the run-around, Dave was told “no” once and for all – that United would not take any blame in the incident and that they most definitely would not pay for the damages made to his Taylor. At this point, Dave urged United to reconsider, telling them that he would make 3 music videos about the incident and publish them to YouTube.
United didn’t budge on their decision.
Dave, staying true to his word, proceeded to make three music videos and posted each one to YouTube. Within 4 days of the first video being uploaded it reached it’s first million views. Today this first video has more than 11 million views and has been written about in hundreds and hundreds of blogs.
To say the least, it was a major and long-lasting crisis for United Airlines.
How Taylor Guitars helped the victims of this crisis
Within 24 hours of Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars video being posted to YouTube, Bob Taylor, president and founder of Taylor Guitars, became aware of the situation. As soon as Bob saw the video, knowing that this was not the first incident of an airline mishandling musical instruments, he decided to post his own video to YouTube, sympathizing with the victims of these incidents and giving them tips on how to travel safely with their equipment.
Within 15 minutes after speaking with his marketing team, Bob’s video was uploaded to YouTube and optimized to be found alongside Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars video.
Bob’s video is titled Taylor Guitars Responds to “United Breaks Guitars” and you can watch it below to get a good understanding of what Taylor’s message was, and how sincere and helpful he came across to his audience:
The end result of Bob Taylor finding an opportunity within the United Airline’s Crisis
Because Bob was so quick to become aware of the situation and respond to it with his own message, he gained tremendous brand awareness, was able to introduce a service that his brand offers that many were unaware of, as well as succeeded in positioning his Taylor Guitars as a caring, sincere and full-service brand of top quality guitars. The end result was that Taylor Guitars saw a 25% increase in sales volume in 2009 from 2008.
Not bad, if I do say so myself!
So how can you go about preparing your brand to be able to help the victims of another company’s social media crisis to your own unique advantage like Taylor Guitars managed to do? There are some strategic steps and guidelines to follow, as well as some crucial ‘faut pas’ that should always be avoided. It’s a thin line between leveraging another’s social media crisis to your own advantage, and launching your brand into a social media crisis of it’s very own.
To learn the steps and guidelines to properly helping the victims of another company’s social media crisis, without launching your own brand into a social media crisis of it’s own, read the second part to this series: 6 Ways to Help the Victims of Another Company’s Social Media Crisis.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.