Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Power Of Social Media When Used For Good, Not Evil

Posted by Leah Ludwig

I often hear mixed reviews about the prominent role social media plays in our everyday lives – that these networks can be obtrusive, time-consuming, confusing, rapidly dynamic, etc. As a PR professional, it has been my duty to learn about, and wrap my head around, the latest social media networks and trends – especially how to best utilize them for our company, our clients and our business partners.

In a society of doom and gloom with constant news stories about economic downturn or catastrophic disasters on the tip of every news reporter’s tongue and in all the top headlines, it is rare to hear positive news stories about anything, let alone social media. Today, I want to prove some of those “Social Media Negative Nancys” wrong and highlight the good behind these tools and the highly informational age that we live in.

My colleague Amanda Walsh, who is one of our office social media gurus, shared these two social media successes with me last week. In a recent New York Times article, social media networks like Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit all played a key role in helping a family locate their college-age son, who was traveling abroad and found himself lost in a Malaysian jungle. In a matter of just 24 hours, the family was able to track down their son, contact him and ensure that he was alright. This story proves how amazing social media networks are at gathering individuals from all across the globe in an effort to share information quickly, and to complete a common goal.

Another great example, that made it onto The Today Show recently, may apply more to our business readers and comes directly from social media entrepreneur, Peter Shankman. He recently posted on his blog the greatest customer service story ever told. In the blog post, Peter details a crazy, whirlwind day that he was having. It ended with one of many airline trips to return him to Newark. Before hopping on his flight, Peter (a steak connoisseur and #1 fan of Morton’s Steakhouse) decided to tweet, jokingly, to Morton’s Steakhouse, “hey @Mortons – can you meet me at the Newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks.:)” Incredibly enough, when he landed and meandered to his driver, he found a Morton’s Steakhouse rep standing there dressed in a tuxedo with a take-out meal, compliments of the restaurant. Talk about customer service!! The word-of-mouth positive publicity and chatter that this successful customer service stunt landed may be immeasurable.

Like all things, there are positives and negatives associated with social media. The negatives often stem from sharing too much or blatantly inappropriate information. As we say here at Furia Rubel, if you wouldn’t shout it in the middle of Times Square, do NOT put it on social media.

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