The “United Breaks Guitars” Fiasco

What started as a cross continental trip for a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, ended in a huge public relations debacle for United Airlines.

This social media spectacle happened a little while ago but the repercussions are still being recognized across the world — small business can benefit greatly even from unfortunate circumstances. It's all about the art of the possible.

Here are a few listens all small businesses can take away from "United Breaks Guitars":

Lesson 1: Listen to your clients and adjust your policies and procedures to reflect their realities.

Those realities may not be yours right now, but eventually a client will come along that will test your skills and powers of persuasion. It's best to work with them, not against them. Online conversations are happening about your business, about you and about your competition — participate or bear the brunt of embarrassment or worse yet irrelevance.

Lesson 2: Small businesses (eg bands) can take advantage of social media and high quality content and turn a negative into a positive.

It would have been easy to sue or just whine and complain, but Dave Carroll and his band of merry men and women too to the Internet. David took his band's skills, showcased them in a funny way and told their story. Sure not everyone will be featured on CNN or ABC but as a small business do you really need this kind of attention to succeed? Not really – just think of how to deal with difficult situations to turn them into an opportunity

Lesson 3: Make sure that you have the right tools to do the job.

Dave is a talented musician and he has the support network to pull off a YouTube sensation. Not all small businesses have that, but it's important to have someone on your staff or in your network to give you good advice on how to take advantage of online communication. It's more than just tools — the right language, the right tone and the right design will set you apart. Find out more by contacting NewPath Technologies and we'll tell you a little more about how we can help your business.

About the author

Alex is a pioneer in using the cloud to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs) and membership-based organizations. He has a BSc in computer science from the University of Michigan and has worked as a product manager at two Internet startups. Alex is a father of 2 and plays the trumpet for fun. He is the founder and the president of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto.