After hearing a lot about crisis communications case studies via social media for companies such as HMV and Burger King, I started thinking that there must be other cases out there of how companies got into some social media pitfalls and then used these lessons to improve their companies.
These examples, I thought, could help the rest of us small businesses learn how to prevent, deal with and learn from PR disasters & crisis communications situations and come out the other side as better business people.
Without further ado, here are some examples from the likes of Jet Blue, Fab.com, Kirklands & Zappos that I found, that I hope will help you become more PR & crisis communications savvy on social media.
Leader in Managing Public Image: JetBlue
In February 2007, JetBlue made the grave errors of not providing over 1000 customers with adequate information as they sat on the runway for over 8 hours at JFK due to a severe ice storm, frozen wheels & the inability to return to the gates due to a lack of availability. What made the situation even more frustrating from passengers was JetBlue’s inability to book alternate flights for many of the passengers due to the storm.
What JetBlue Did Next: Using Social Media to Mend Customer Relations
JetBlue shocked everyone by issuing a heartfelt apology. Using both traditional channels and YouTube, JetBlue’s founder and then- CEO David Neeleman issued the apology, taking full responsibility for the mishap and expressing genuine regret. He then created the JetBlue Customer Bill of Rights with the promise to handle future issues exponentially better.
Turning another PR crisis into an opportunity
When JetBlue pilot Captain Osbon experienced a mental breakdown in April of 2012, JetBlue tweeted updates and created a live-blog, keeping customers in the loop and creating the sense that JetBlue and their customers were in it together. As a result, JetBlue won first place in the consumer-decided Simpliflying Heroes, demonstrating the power of social media in turning potential disasters into PR wins.
The lesson: Use social media to respond quickly and accept responsibility for your failures
For JetBlue, by responding quickly and providing customers with real-time, honest information, even major crises like Captain Osbon’s in-flight medical emergency provide the potential for positive customer relations.
To sum up: use social media to respond quickly and honestly, while also keeping track of how your customers respond. You can simultaneously retain existing customers, cause those customers to spend more, and gain new customers who see your brand effectively engaging in customer service.
Leader in Generating Revenue: Zappos
Using Social Evangelism to Drive Revenue
Zappos allows buyers to easily share their purchases across Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, with impressive results across social networks. For each ‘Share’, Zappos earns $33.66 on Twitter, $2.08 on Facebook, and $0.75 on Pinterest in incremental revenue. Facilitating the social endorsement doesn’t rely on Zappos’s social media presence but rather on the social media presence of their customers.
To top their social-friendly website, Zappos also leverages social media with custom sites like Pinpointing, which utilizes Pinterest users’ posts to make shopping recommendations for them. This initiative, combined with encouraging and facilitating social sharing, allows Zappos to generate both quantifiable ROI and more comprehensive ROF (Return on Fan).
The lesson: Use customer endorsement to drive sales through social
While a strong social presence is essential for overall success, what sets Zappos apart from other companies successful in social engagement is their ability to leverage consumers to sell products for them.
Leader in Leveraging Facebook to Increase Website Traffic: Fab.com
Creating a website with social built-in
Fab.com has done everything from facilitating and incentivizing social endorsement to actually creating a live “newsfeed” on the site using Facebook Open Graph. This Newsfeed populates in real-time with user activity on Facebook, creating a constant influx of new user generated content and allowing users to browse and buy this socially shared content directly from Facebook or their website. Using these tactics, in just four months Fab was able to double its referral traffic from Facebook and expand its membership from 1.8 to 3.2 million users.
The lesson: Incorporate social media into your website
Fab. com created a website entirely integrated with the social world and doubled its user base with a large percentage of high lifetime value customers. The more social value Fab creates – such as adding recommendations based on friend’s purchases in the live stream – the more users will purchase their products and share with their social graphs.
Leader in Generating Leads: Kirkland’s
Kirkland’s spent 2011 growing their social media following with a focus on Facebook: they now have over 580k Facebook ‘Likes’. Upon reaching their desired audience size and seeing higher traffic to and increased social spending on their site, the company shifted their attention to cultivating their following by creating valuable content.
Embracing social commerce: Kirkland’s Dream Room Giveaway sweepstakes
Kirkland’s used the sweepstake entry-for-email transactional method to create great value for both fans and the company. Fans entered their basic information without ever leaving their Facebook page, combining Discovery (newsfeed), Interaction (promotion), and Transaction (entry-for-email). Using this value-creation tactic, Kirkland’s was able to gather 16,400 fan emails, 2,269 of which were new to their database.
$0.66/new qualified email address and other quantifiable benefits
The Kirkland’s Dream Room Giveaway led to over 2,000 qualified (qualifying a lead was based on the average spending for each email obtained through Facebook) new emails obtained at an average price of $0.66. More than just lead generation, the Dream Home Giveaway campaign offered returns not directly linked to monetary gains, with an increase of 40% in new Facebook ‘Likes’ and 47% more people ‘Talking about’ Kirkland’s for the month of August.
The lesson: “Free” offers in social can drive ROI with the right exchange of information
The value of social media amounts to far more than driving direct sales and managing customer relations. By creating a free offer in exchange for an email address, Kirkland’s was able to cheaply drive qualified leads, filling the sales pipeline and driving revenue further down the line.
With every single one of these case studies, you can learn not only how and what to do regarding PR & crisis communications scenarios, but also how to better leverage social media to increase web traffic, generate leads and revenue without having to resort to using promotions such as contests just to drive engagement and conversation. You can use them as a means of nurturing leads as well.
What’s your favourite case study that’s taught you something new about utilizing social media?
For more on social media tools and the importance of leveraging platforms to create effective campaigns, check out my post on Tips on How to Leverage Social Media to Effectively Promote Events.