With great power comes great responsibility, and end users know who is in control

By Daniel O'Leary posted 05-17-2010 22:43


Since most of the posts here are super serious, it seemed only fair to keep things light.

This is directed RIGHT at end users (yes you, reading this at work), vendors please follow along, and be prepared. I really hope that you all have learned just how amazingly powerful your voice is as a single end user given social media. For the first time in history, you have platforms and a voice to broadcast your message to the entire world instantly, for free. 

Let me give you a personal example: About two months ago, a mechanical arm that lets people in and out of the parking lot was stuck in the up position, and I was stranded  in the parking lot of the Long Beach airport for nearly an hour, longer than my actual flight from Oakland back home. They wouldn't let anyone leave or pay cash, and the natives were growing restless. I contemplated walking home, begged them to take my money, pleaded for escape, offered them my organs etc.

As the ever-growing line of cars waited, I hopped on my iPhone and researched the company who managed the lot, called my city council member who oversees the airport, called the company, and e-mailed the local office. As an angry, tired Irishman, it was hard to keep my cool, but I left confident that the wrong would be righted. Once home, I tweeted some pics, posted a Yelp review, let my 600 friends on Facebook know that they should rethink parking at the Long Beach airport, and posted on their Yahoo stock page. (Overkill yes, but I was pissed).

By noon the next day, I had received an e-mail and a phone call from an Executive Vice President at the parking company about my barrage of complaints. Note, this is a multi-billion dollar company, and he sounded panicked. What happened? How can we make this right? Do you want a refund? Can you retract your posts? Do you want a hug?

WOW! 12 hours before, his company was holding me and about two-dozen other people hostage, and now they wanted to be my best friend. Being a semi-reasonable guy, I accepted their indemnification, and wrote a letter commending them for good customer service. Seriously, they did a good job making things right.

Welcome friends to the power of social media.


A few years ago, getting this kind of bend over backwards response was impossible. Given a few well placed messages, I went from angry customer to happy panda. Think about it, by 10am the very next day, this problem was totally resolved. 

So here it what you need to learn from this experience- you can use this power for your own benefit. Tools like Twitter and LinkedIn allow a 1 to many communication, and the organization you mention, other current and potential customers and their competitors can all see the messages you broadcast. You wield tremendous power to share your experiences- good and bad with the world. Examples like the United Airlines guitar guy are perfect examples of your power as a consumer and end-user.

Spiderman put it best, with great power comes great responsibility. I firmly believe that as an end user, you have a duty to be heard, and to air your legitimate complaints for the world to see. Likewise, if you have a GOOD experience with a vendor, please share it. Places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social networks are a powerful platform to express yourself.

I would love to hear other people's experiences with using social media to resolve issues, or your experiences with Pandas. Pandas are AWESOME. 

#socialmedia #twitter #yelp