Again and again, we see the largest corporations relegate social media. Here is why it is important not to do so. Yesterday morning, I read [this blog] by Matt Fisher. His sister was killed in a car wreck, the other driver was found negligent, and Progressive owed the family. Instead of paying up, they forced the family to take the negligent driver to civil court and then Progressive defended that driver. A gutsy (likely typical) move that the media would never find out about (before platforms like Tumblr and Twitter).
By the time I read it, the tumblr post was already at “critical mass” but not yet on Twitter or Facebook. After a few tweets about the subject matter from a group of 10 or 11 people, the blog by the mourning brother went everywhere.
And by that point, I knew that this sad story would go viral. I was hopeful that the Fisher family would receive some sort solace and rightful payment. It is amazing what big companies can do to voiceless consumers. Shortly after Twitter amplified the Tumblr post, I began following the @Progressive mentions. I knew that this story had to be overwhelming to the ill-prepared social media team at the insurance agency. Soon enough, they began launching the carefully crafted statement of the legal team - in tweet form.
A mistake, in and of itself, the social media team was rendered useless to its function. They ended any meaningful, personal interaction by the 11 people above and thought it smart to robot-reply to each person as if the messages were private and incomparable.
What this scenario revealed was more than an injustice. It was a referendum on how seriously companies should take social media monitoring. It’s likely that the social media-savvy group of Progressive tweeters had never known of the multiplicative power of a Tumblr blog. When I tweeted it yesterday, it had already received 900+ notes (huge). It is now at 11,000 (unstoppable).
The news platforms that are now featuring the story include: New York Daily News, Gawker, New York Magazine, Point of Law, NBC Colorado, Mashable, New York Observer, Social Zoo, Daily Mail UK, Death and Taxes, The inquisitor, and Business Insider.
As a result of the pushback, Progressive has been detrimentally silent. Stephanie Courtney’s “Flo”, the comic icon of the company, has been removed from the Twitter AVI due to the serious nature of the matter. The moral of the story: develop a social media team with actual autonomy. The silence and insensitivity of the social media team exacerbated the situation (that was bad enough).
The positive thing to take away from all of this? The Fisher family will likely receive their money from the publicly traded corporation. And you can rest assured as consumers, that if the situation is dire enough and you present it the right way - people will listen and help you right a wrong. Businesses need to understand that no longer is one person = to one voice.
[UPDATED] Progressive issues a statement saying claiming that they did not have an attorney representing Fisher’s sister.
[UPDATED] Fisher issues another blog detailing how the named attorney defended the client covered by Nationwide Insurance. As you can see above, the court record says otherwise.
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