Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The GM Recall and Social Media

General Motors has recently recalled, reluctantly and belatedly in some cases, 1.6-million cars and seem to concede that 12 people have died as a result of crashes in those cars in the past five years. 

There have been reports that many more have died because of defective ignition switches in six models of  GM cars and the company is getting hammered for not revealing the danger for years.

That's the bad news.  But, the good news is the company, under the leadership of its new CEO Mary Barra, is beginning to take action and actually doing a number of things well. She has appeared in video messages to customers and employees and generally said the right things and mostly delivered her messages in a believable and sincere manner.

The company is still using conventional methods of reaching out to key audiences, using direct mail, blogs and a beefed up call center, but it now has a team of 20 people working in its Detroit social media center responding to complaints and inquiries seven days a week.  And they appear to be inviting unhappy customers and others "off-line" for private and personal discussions, leading to efforts by the car company to resolve issues and speed up loaner car requests and repair to the defective automobiles.

Crimson Hexagon, a social media research company in Boston, reports about 26-percent of Twitter postings that mention GM are "positive" while 71-percent have been neutral and only three-percent have been negative.

According to Crimson Hexagon's Elizabeth Breese, most of the public discussion about the defective GM cars and the company's feet dragging, is being "driven by auto, business and media authors."

It's worth a visit to GM's Facebook page to see what a relatively small number of unhappy customers are writing and all the other things car people are talking about, totally unrelated to the negative "defect" issue.