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Don’t be caught short by a lack of social media awareness

January, 2015

One small gesture on Twitter can create a wealth of good publicity, as Erica Jones of Kent PR agency Maxim explains.

Many companies shy away from Twitter, they have other things to focus on or fear it as a magnet for complaints. But if it’s done well social media can lead to some – often unexpected – very good publicity.

A little over a month ago a teenage boy tweeted about his unfortunate predicament involving a train toilet and a lack of loo roll. Within three minutes the transport provider had responded to the tweet, located the boy and dispatched a staff member to deliver the much-needed toilet paper.

At the time – a little after 9pm on a Tuesday – Adam Greenwood had thought it would be funny to tell his friends about his unfortunate situation, whereas Virgin Trains respondent MW was simply doing his job.

Growing publicity

The tweet itself didn’t even receive that much attention, a mere 318 retweets compared to the 2,549 generated by a US tourist being locked in a bookshop a few months previously (also transformed into a PR success story). Even with the related tweets and responses at the time, the attention was much less than a storm in a teacup, and yet weeks later there are countless articles about the incident on national – and even international – news sites.

But why? After all, the tweet itself was quite immature and jokey, Virgin Trains could have easily ignored it and concentrated on more travel-related comments. Yes, they would have potentially been criticised for doing so, but ‘faulty’ toilets on trains are hardly uncommon and a lack of toilet roll certainly isn’t on the same level as if one of their trains had been delayed by several hours.

Positive reaction

However, they did the nice – and right – thing and helped the kid in question (and let’s face it, he’s not the only one to have been in such a situation) and so now they’re being talked about, praised and remembered. On my part I can’t help but think ‘my usual train provider wouldn’t do something like that’ and let’s face it, everyone enjoys a little toilet humour.

The lesson from this is that Twitter, and all forms of social media, should not be ignored. Yes, we all know how unanswered complaints can fester and grow, but the medium can also be a force for good: with one act of kindness magnifying into a lot of free and very welcome publicity.

Erica Jones - Account Director

Erica Jones

Maxim / Account Director

posted in: advice, social media,

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