Over at the Business Week site, consultant and former Harvard professor John Sviokla reflects on an interesting episode that took place on a Virgin America flight just a few days ago. On March 13th, A Virgin America flight from Los Angeles to New York ended up being diverted to Newburgh, N.Y., because of very poor weather. Passengers suffered through a four-hour wait in the plane on the tarmac at Newburgh. You can imagine the scene. We have heard of similar horror stories in the past. David Martin, CEO of Kontain.com, documented the entire episode on his company's iPhone social-media application. Virgin America learned about Martin's social-media writings, and the CEO ultimately called him. Each passenger ended up receiving full refund for the flight and a $100 voucher for future travel.
Sviokla writes that we can learn some important lessons from this episode. Specifically, he argues that, "Every company must have 'a brand radar system' to constantly monitor social media. The good news is that if a company commits to this notion of having a brand radar system, there are many tools to help build this surveillance capability." Many people have talked about this idea of monitoring social media constantly both for good and bad feedback regarding your brand. What's interesting is the speed and agility required on the part of companies. Do all firms have that type of flexibility and fast response capability? Does yours?
Sviokla points out that Disney's Chief Technology Officer informed him that it used to take until the end of opening weekend for the company to determine if a movie was doing well. Now, social media enables Disney to detect within hours of a premiere how customers are feeling about the film. Word of mouth spreads via social media in a matter of hours, not days. Thus, firms need to have a sophisticated brand radar system, but that's not enough. They also need an incredibly fast and agile response system as well.