In today’s social- driven climate, it’s become increasingly difficult for companies to escape their past. Events that have taken place years back can suddenly, without warning, resurrect and haunt a brand in a way they couldn’t previously. Past stories tend may get shared again on other social media networks like Facebook instead of their origination. Below you can see the prevalence of a story about Delta airlines that is predominantly shared on Facebook, which tends to have more stories, instead of a site like Twitter, which tends to be for in the moment information in a bite sized format.

Escaping sins of social past

This particular story involves Delta Air Lines and their treatment of a former marine. The event in question occurred in December 2011 but the story is still being shared as late as August of this year, almost 2 full years later. On December 13, 2011, a disabled, former marine was taking a Delta flight and was mistreated by the airline staff and was wheeled to the back of the plane.

Reports of this story were quickly picked up and Delta issued a quick apology via its blog a few days later saying, “We’re sorry for this service hero’s experience. And we are using this unfortunate and unacceptable incident as an opportunity to revisit and reinforce the standards that our more than 80,000 employees worldwide embody.” Delta responded both online and in-person to the marine and issued a public apology but the damage was done.

As you can see from the recent sound bites below, people are still sharing this story. One way to combat this kind of sharing is to monitor for key terms and phrases associated with a story and set up a triggered alert so that the brand, in this case Delta, can respond and address this quickly and point to the actions that the company took when the event occurred. With quick response, Delta reduces the sharing of the story and escape a nearly two-year-old event.

monitor key terms and phrases

NetBase’ CMO Pernille Bruun-Jensen recently addressed the issue of old incidents and stories being shared again and what companies can do to address this. To listen to this podcast and find other examples of how big data is changing digital marketing, listen to a podcast entitled “The Generation 3 Social Media Era,” an interview with NetBase’s CMO, Pernille Bruun-Jensen.”

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