The Dangers of Sharing Economy

Lessons from the Dark Side of Social Selling

What happens when your safety record, or commitment to it, is called into question over a tweet, status update or even a poor review on Yelp!? What are people saying about your brand that you might not even be aware of? Social listening is an essential tool in your arsenal, and Google Alerts has been useless for years and yet almost every person we talked to counts on this worthless feature. So what can we learn from these incidents?
Uber-Lyft text logos on black background

This particularly popular tweet passed by our stream, and is one of many we’ve seen highlighting both Uber & Lyft recently, or really any of the sharing economies unicorns or special darlings. Peer-to-Peer recommendations are the source of their greatest of referrals and lead-generation, alternately the biggest threat too. That can cut both ways when it comes to the social media ‘rep’ your company can get. This one tweet thread is a nightmare for Corporate Social Responsibility and highlights the flaw in their strategy. She has clearly tagged them in it, and follows up with what steps were taken, and how inadequate their response (through traditional channels were):

Women are particularly at risk here, and a very similar (if not more horrific tale and follow up about Uber) of sexual harassment and stalking. They make up 50% of any demographic and the planet. So if you are suddenly not creating ease of use with your product, but life-threatening risk factors which are all but unmentioned about conventional methods (Taxis, et al) then you have to ask yourself and your company the hard questions.

The logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street is seen in this photo illustration taken in Madrid on December 10, 2014. REUTERS/SERGIO PEREZ

Obviously they can’t NOT have a Twitter account, but in having one (or not) they are open to allegations. True or not, perceived or actual, the threat is always there. You have a business, and as a small business or solo-entrepreneur you have to be on the lookout for just such mentions. It is your duty to respond to them professionally and politely. Be they troll or serious, this can and does open a whole can of risk onto a person trying to manage it all themselves.

Moral of this story

Much ado is made about how customer service or the new “Social Service” where your customer complaints department becomes an open forum, for all to see and nothing could seem more dangerous. When something like this tweet, with at the time of writing 5k RTs reaching millions of eyes, many reading and not sharing, but making mental note to use your competitors, and in some cases to not use this type of unregulated service at all.

Uber old and new logo

New Logo, Who Dis? via TechAdvisor

The dangers are too real for many, and being locked in the back of car to get your phone number seems a hefty price to pay for $8.60 ride. In fact, even for those reading it, this will seem a PR/Social Media nightmare. Damned if they respond too callously or flippant, and yet every second this gets shared is another mind potentially poisoned against your brand.

It is a perilous point to be in, and yet should also be expected. Whether the allegations are false or ring true, they highlight a particular weak spot for every business that has a digital presence. How to manage your reputation and manage a meltdown in real-time.

Start by having a Crisis Management strategy, even before you put up your website or sign up for a social media account. Without one, the unplanned and unwarranted attention will overwhelm what little resources you have, and most likely put you at more of a disadvantage. Know before hand how to stem the tide, because deleting your profile is not an option, and can in most cases do more harm than good. The @___’s will still be there for all to see, even those that follow you or those that don’t.

We’ve specialized in just this sort of damage control, and mediation of tough circumstances in both real life and the digital one. Having be the subject of a vicious & malevolent attack, we can say without a doubt it will always strike when you least expect it. Your duty is to remain ontop of it without losing sight of what your real job is.   Changing your logo, visual identity, putting out PR blurbs will not stem the tide in this new economy. The real goal is attention, and that often comes with a very dark and dangerous side. So are you prepared?

Tell us below what steps you took to protect your sites, profiles, and reputation. We will definitely be revisiting this subject with tips & tricks learned over years of managing that are perfectly tailored for those who wear too many hats already.