United Airlines never learns: You could have got your customers to help and sell for you

Yet you never learned your lessons.

United Airlines is going through a PR disaster. Yet this is not the first time they have this kind of situation.

The famous United Breaks Guitar incident was one of the first stories we heard about how powerful the social media can be.

If you don’t know about it, here is what happened: it all started with when professional musician Dave Carroll found out his guitar was damaged after getting off his United Airlines flight. The musician then spent 15 months looking for compensation and in frustration, wrote the song ‘United Breaks Guitar’ about his experience and uploaded it on YouTube. The video received millions of views within a week and United Airlines was widely condemned on Twitter. United Airlines had to reach out in the end to offer the compensation and suffered from the aftermath of this PR disaster for a long time.

Check out this catchy song if you’d like.

Customers are our gods. In the past, if your customers are dissatisfied with your service, they are only able to tell people around them. Even so, their friends and families would then tell other people about their bad experience.

But now, with social media being used every single day everywhere, one small complaint can easily go viral and quickly become a giant problem that can make your company suffer. 

Not to mention about this misconduct. 

Having good relationships with your customers is always one of the most important parts of your business. In fact, the best marketing practice is to get your customers to sell for you. Once you earn trust from your customers, they will be much more likely to talk good things about you.


Oracle’s ’10 steps toward customer advocacy’ 

So how do you get your customers to sell for you in a quick, smart way? Simply enough, you have to get your customers to like you first, to make them feel they are important. At the same time, you must create value for them so that they think you care about them.

Although User generated content like ‘United Breaks Guitar’ can be disastrous to your brand, in the age of social media, it is also one way of interacting with and engaging your customers, and achieving the ultimate goal of getting your customers to sell for you.

Coca-Cola’s ‘share a coke’ campaign is a classic example of utilizing UGC to drive sales. The campaign created personalized Coke bottles with customers’ names and encouraged customers to share a coke with someone. Hashtag #ShareACoke was also written on the bottle to encourage social media sharing. The campaign resulted in loads of users buying coke and sharing on social media.


Lay’s ‘Do us a flavor’ campaign invited customers to contribute ideas on product flavors and allowed them to vote on their favorites on social media. This campaign also drove huge customer participation and involvement.


These campaigns might sound old to you, but they engage, sell, create advocacy effectively. Both Coca-cola and Lay’s managed to use fun ideas to engage and interact, consumers feel important because they are contributing and being part of something.

In the age of social media, there are so many opportunities brands can explore and win good customer relationships, whether using UGC or not, always have your customers in mind and being authentic will win you unexpected opportunities.


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