BlogWell Austin Social Media Case Study: UPS, presented by Debbie Curtis-Magley

BlogWell Austin Social Media Case Study: UPS, presented by Debbie Curtis-Magley



UPS's Manager, Corporate Public Relations, Debbie Curtis-Magley, shares how UPS uses social media to defend itself when under attack.

UPS's Manager, Corporate Public Relations, Debbie Curtis-Magley, shares how UPS uses social media to defend itself when under attack.



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  • Web-enabled phones give people immediate access to information – by 2012, Morgan Stanley predicts that smartphones will exceed shipments of PCs It also gives them an electronic megaphone to share their views with the online world Search is the key resource people use to find information. And it’s not just Google – Facebook, YouTube and Twitter also see a lot of search activity.
  • In December 2008, the Northwest was hit with a record snow storm that impacted roads and transportation networks. Up to this point, we had been collaborating with our Customer Call Center on the best way to help customers who complain online. We realized that before we start actively talking about our brand, we needed a process in place to quickly resolve customers complaints. Otherwise, our online efforts would generate criticism. We found a lot of angry customers online who were searching for their UPS packages. This blog is representative of the commentary. At Twitter (on Dec. 30), there were over 400 individual comments - referred to as “tweets”, about delivery delays – with most coming from the Seattle area. Typically, we may see two to three dozen complaints about service issues at Twitter. In response, we started reaching out directly to people on Twitter with problems that we could help solve.
  • A tough situation like this gave us the momentum to launch ongoing customer support at Twitter. As a company that delivers a service, we had to show attention for customer concerns if we wanted to gain interest for our other communications.
  • Last June, our company became the target of a sophisticated campaign launched by FedEx. The issue was over pending federal legislation that proposed FedEx Express fall under the same labor law applied to all other delivery companies.
  • The website sparked discussions on Twitter, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, online forums and news sites. The language used was provocative: “ Bailout” “ Monopoly” “ Disruption to Commerce” “ Jobs at Risk” “ Poorer service/Higher costs to customers”
  • When a story appeared at a major news site, it sparked discussion. Lots of comments made as news sites, like Business Week. Political blogs joined the conversation. Interestingly, the discussions didn’t always focus on the story about the legislation – often times, people used it as a spring board to share opinions about unions and the administration.
  • People spread links and shared opinions on Twitter. And, we responded back to correct the record.
  • We corrected allegations by presenting facts and raising questions about FedEx’s claims. Key points raised in my argument: 1.) Refute claim of story – UPS never asked for a bailout 2.) Redirect discussion with facts Same job/same law – issue of fair competition Out of all delivery companies, FedEx only one covered by different labor laws
  • Key points raised in my argument: 1.) Refute claim of story – letter writing was voluntary 2.) Redirect discussion with facts issue of fair competition Out of all delivery companies, FedEx Express only one covered by different labor laws FedEx already has 100K employees covered under same labor law as UPS FedEx employees still get to choose whether they want a union
  • Politico – over 750 comments – this was no longer a conversation, but a lot of people just posting statements; many people used story to talk about views on unions, lobbying and the government. Any comment we’d post would get lost in the brief flood of commentary. JonBischke – he already took FedEx to task in his blog and readily handled rebuttals by FedEx; no need for us to chime in Brown Bailout – independent employee discussion and didn’t see value with participating in commentary
  • In less than 24 hours after the quake, online rumors for several brands quickly spread on Twitter and other social media channels. UPS was not immune – people rapidly tweeted that we would ship any package under 50lbs to Haiti for free – despite the fact that our own delivery service to the country was suspended because of the destruction of roads and communications networks.
  • We posted our response within an hour of tracking the rumor. Three objectives with our response: Tell people how UPS is helping Haiti Correct rumor Encourage people to help through supporting disaster relief agencies Within 24 hours of publishing the blog response, it attracted over 20,000 views and more than 25 comments. Statements from the blog were also quote in online news stories from CNN, Foreign Policy and NPR.
  • Our outreach team hit Twitter hard by correcting the rumor and driving people to the blog for more information. Within 120 characters, we hit our key message points. Our responses were frequently re-tweeted
  • In less than 24 hours, UPS outreach generated nearly 900,000 impressions to the rumor response on Twitter. For every 1 person who saw the rumor on Twitter, more than 20 saw the UPS response.
  • By addressing the rumor response, we also attracted viewers to more information about our global disaster relief efforts. This helped drive awareness for key business and reputation messages: UPS global network and expertise in logistics, warehousing and transportation Our commitment to helping people and communities in times of need A passion for volunteerism among our employees In total, our Haiti stories attracted over 60,000 views at the blog and more than 65 comments.
  • Actively engaged on Twitter to answer questions Tracked 2,300 posts and over 500 comments 82% came from Twitter Nearly 5.9 million impressions generated at Twitter Peak day for chatter was April 3 with more than 400 posts and 2 million Twitter impressions Positive feedback from Apple on our Twitter outreach
  • 1.) Monitoring Monitoring helps distinguish between a real issue from everyday chatter Idenitifies where conversations are happening By using data, it builds the business case and illustrations information that non-communicators can relate to Tracks progress and effectiveness of your response 2.) Voice For UPS, Twitter is an important channel because it’s a top source for conversations about our brand. @ThomasAtUPS and @MikeAtUPS are friendly and trusted voices that people were willing to believe 3.) Train Guidelines for communications staff so they know how to handle discussions Have staff ready to go; responses need to be timely; can’t wait days because you’ll get left behind - We use talking points approved by Legal to guide our conversations 4.) Respond Sometimes a response isn’t always useful; the community does a good job debating issue without our involvement 5.) Advantages Interest (and nervousness) from executives is heighted when issues occur Use the opportunity to educate and show how you’re using best practices to manage issues Tell decision makers what is needed for ongoing work (resources, approval, staff)

BlogWell Austin Social Media Case Study: UPS, presented by Debbie Curtis-Magley BlogWell Austin Social Media Case Study: UPS, presented by Debbie Curtis-Magley Presentation Transcript

  • Social Media Defense: Protecting your Brand when its Under Attack
  • Why care about social media?
    • Everyone is mobile
    • People are sharing experiences and opinions (good or bad) about brands
    • Search drives awareness and relevance
  • Jumping into the Storm
  • Snowed under in the Northwest
  • Over 560,000 positive impressions generated by customer responses
  • Customers share appreciation for outreach
  • FedEx & Brown Bailout Attack
  • @ jacquesmunkey UPS has not asked Congress for a bailout. Ever.
  • Correcting the story
  • Addressing employee allegations
  • What we didn’t respond to
  • Haiti Rumor Response
  • News about Haiti quake led to multiple rumors – including UPS free shipping
  • Blog served as official response to rumor
  • The rumor started in Twitter and we worked to correct it there
  • And the Twittersphere helped spread the message
  • Outreach also drove interest in our Haiti stories
  • iPad Launch
  • iPad launch day delivery
      • UPS helped Apple deliver iPads on its April 3 rd launch day in the U.S.
      • Anticipation and enthusiasm drove online conversations when Apple customers received their shipping alert
  • For some customers, enthusiasm turned to confusion
  • We answered questions (and relieved anxiety)
  • Insights on social media conversations shared at upside blog
  • At Twitter, conversation peaked during launch week Individual Mentions at Twitter
  • 5 Tips for Social Media Defense
    • 1.) Start monitoring now
    • 2.) Build a credible online voice
    • 3.) Train and empower your staff
    • 4.) Know when to respond and when not to
    • 5.) Issues can offer advantages