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How social media can be used and misused
Publication Date : 07-09-2013
Social media can not only help consumers make the right decision on purchases, they also give people a channel to voice their complaints about a company's products and services. Voices made "louder" by social media help complaints get addressed by companies faster.
Using social media to voice complaints is not a new phenomenon, but is starting to become more widely used. The latest case was when a user bought a "promoted tweet" to get his complaint heard.
Hasan Syed (@HVSVN) hit the public sphere with his complaint against the service of @BritishAirways, and closed the campaign as soon as the airline contacted him. Obviously, the consumer in this case had to spend money to draw the airline's attention.
A similar campaign was launched in Thailand, when people started complaining about the EasyPass service introduced by the Expressway Authority of Thailand (EXAT), Complaints rang loud and clear across all social-media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, about drivers not being able to access toll gates with EasyPass.
Pongsuk Hiranprueck (@NuiShow) tweeted that he was unable to go past the gate because the system mistakenly said he had no balance on his EasyPass, when there was 725 baht (US$22) in it.
Jo Challenge posted on Facebook that his EasyPass was impounded because he had no money in it even though the gate display showed his remaining balance at 500 baht.
Most complaints about EasyPass were related to the balance display, with many saying it showed an incorrect figure, which confused motorists about how much money there was in their account.
Thanks to these loud complaints, EXAT introduced a new system of sending text message to users about how much money was left in their EasyPass.
Though social media have helped give voice to consumers, they have also been misused.
For instance, there was the case of the tweet from Thai Airways (@ThaiAirways) that said: "Urgent! Please note that this THAIAIRLINE account is fake and THAI is not giving away any free tickets for those who share. For the official account please go to @thaiairways #thaiairways."
This fake account posted on its bio that it would give two free tickets for the first 10,000 followers, and it also carried an official link to the Thai Airways website.
The wrong information obviously managed to confuse a lot of people and even caused damage for the airline.
Social media have become marketing tools for businesses and are giving consumers a louder voice, yet on the other hand, they are also being misused and having a negative effect on one and all.
Therefore, it will help to be a bit more careful when using social media.