Standing United in Social Media

In the past few days, videos of a man forcefully pulled out of his seat in a United Airline plane circulated on the Internet. It was a result of overbooking, a common practice among airline companies, and 4 passengers were asked to give up their seats for 4 employees of United Airlines. The videos went viral, as it displayed an ugly side of how United Airlines handled this situation.

United Airlines violently removing passenger from his seat

Passenger injured and bloodied in United Airlines confrontation

These two videos, and another one showing the incident from an adjacent angle, blew up on social media sites, and garnered countless attention. A large majority of people paying attention to this story is blaming United Airlines for this disturbing and unnecessary incident, and some of them says that they will never ride on United Airlines anymore. While it’s unsure how United Airlines’ revenue will be impacted, the share price of the company felt the impact of the incident, as its share price and market value dropped immediately following the incident. New York Post also reported that “CEO was tone-deaf” as he issued an email which said that “he emphatically stands behind his staff”.

This incident definitely exemplified the power of social media, as it was able to garner so much attention due to the share-ability nature of social media. It shares some similarity with one of the case that Prof Kyu shared with us in “Social Media in Asian context”. In the Namyang dairy incident, people wanted to pursue social justice for the senior who was bullied; netizens are calling out United Airlines for their gross behavior in this incident. There were media richness as well, as people felt offended that the airline company was capable of such inhumane behavior despite it claiming and promising that it cares for the safety of its passengers. The video was very provocative, and stirred strong emotions in netizens, and their rage expedited the issue.

This incident could be explained with a lot of the knowledge that I gained from COMM346. COMM346 has opened my eyes to how closely relevant social media is to our lives. Society is deeply embroiled in social media, as people’s emotions could be stirred up using provocative content on social media. Companies cannot deny the impact of social media, as it relates to their bottomline and company performances. As an individual, all the more it is important for us to know how social media plays a part in our lives, as it will definitely affect our future prospects: in employment, relationships, and more. Henceforth it is important for us to manage social media, no matter what our status or identity is.

Learning how social media comes to life in COMM346 was a joy, but it could not have been so without Prof Kyu. I would like to thank Prof Kyu for sharing valuable insights of the correlations between social media and organisations, societies, and individuals, and for helping me understand the intricacies of social media strategies much easier with interesting and thought-provoking examples. I would also like to thank TA Pui Fang for helping me out whenever I run into problems. COMM346 is definitely one of the modules that will resonate with me even after I graduate from SMU and enter the workforce!

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Standing United in Social Media

  1. Hi Han Rui, this case definitely showcases the power of social media, so much so that there is currently activist movement on social media with the hashtag #BoycottUnited or even #dontflyunited. In light of past crises (eg; #DeleteUber etc), I just wonder if social media activism actually works? Of course for United, since it just happened within the past week and the case is still being brought up and talked about on every (US) news channel, this activism is still very fresh and alive.

    However, social media boycotts seem to be quite popular and with varied success. For example, the relatively recent #DeleteUber campaign saw 200,000 people deleting the app but it was later revealed that this only saw a 5% drop in popularity with the American public. Despite this social media activism, Uber remained popular.

    For United’s case, I do not think this activism will last. United has had its past share of negative publicity (for example; United breaks guitars) but they are still in business. That being said, the company definitely needs an excellent PR team to change its brand image.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Han Rui,

    I think these videos and the backlash experienced by United shows the importance of companies using social media as a Monitor from the 3M strategy we discussed in class in order to contain and respond appropriately. In this case where United’s CEO only apologised in the third issued statement, “consumer outrage was amplified after initial responses from the companies were viewed as too slow and unapologetic” (Maheshwari, 2017) and the issue was worsened due to anonymous communication on social media that has developed to allow users to be vocal about the issues while protecting their identity.

    Technology and Web 3.0 definitely had a large part to play in this saga as CNBC (2017) stated that “not long ago, such incidents might have gotten a mention on the local news at most, and quickly disappeared. But smartphone cameras and social media have democratized information and shifted power to consumers. Companies can no longer sweep complaints under the rug”. This is especially true in United’s case as it can be viewed as a personal issue with no representativeness as it is not the first time someone has been forcefully deplaned, but because videos were taken and uploaded, the content was now for mass consumption and had turned into uncontrolled communication through the conduit of social media.

    Thus, as Samantha has mentioned, the company does indeed need an outstanding PR and advertising team as “the beautiful and the scary thing for marketers is that for the first time in history, they now have this open door for a two-way dialogue with consumers” (Maheshwari, 2017).

    References:

    Maheshwari, S. (2017, April 13). United and Pepsi Affairs Force Brands to Respect Social Media. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/business/media/united-and-pepsi-affairs-force-brands-to-respect-social-media.html?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.sg%2F&_r=0

    Smartphones and social media are turning consumers into whistleblowers. (2017, April 13). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/13/smartphones-and-social-media-are-turning-consumers-into-whistleblowers.html

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Han Rui,

    I think these videos and the backlash experienced by United shows the importance of companies using social media as a Monitor from the 3M strategy we discussed in class in order to contain and respond appropriately. In this case where United’s CEO only apologised in the third issued statement, “consumer outrage was amplified after initial responses from the companies were viewed as too slow and unapologetic” (Maheshwari, 2017) and the issue was worsened due to anonymous communication on social media that has developed to allow users to be vocal about the issues while protecting their identity.

    Technology and Web 3.0 definitely had a large part to play in this saga as CNBC (2017) stated that “not long ago, such incidents might have gotten a mention on the local news at most, and quickly disappeared. But smartphone cameras and social media have democratized information and shifted power to consumers. Companies can no longer sweep complaints under the rug”. This is especially true in United’s case as it can be viewed as a personal issue with no representativeness as it is not the first time someone has been forcefully deplaned, but because videos were taken and uploaded, the content was now for mass consumption and had turned into uncontrolled communication through the conduit of social media.

    Thus, as Samantha has mentioned, the company does indeed need an outstanding PR and advertising team as LaChance states “the beautiful and the scary thing for marketers is that for the first time in history, they now have this open door for a two-way dialogue with consumers” (as quoted in Maheshwari, 2017).

    References:

    Maheshwari, S. (2017, April 13). United and Pepsi Affairs Force Brands to Respect Social Media. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/business/media/united-and-pepsi-affairs-force-brands-to-respect-social-media.html?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.sg%2F&_r=0

    Smartphones and social media are turning consumers into whistleblowers. (2017, April 13). Retrieved April 15, 2017, from http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/13/smartphones-and-social-media-are-turning-consumers-into-whistleblowers.html

    Liked by 1 person

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