Two weeks ago, I tried to change a hotel reservation but was told I could not shift my stay forward one night without paying for the original two nights and then paying for the new two nights. Apparently, I had missed the fine print when I clicked on a special frequent flier program offer. I called the airline, got caught up in the web of 800 numbers, and begged every customer service rep I could get a hold of to work with me. But, despite my being a legitimate frequent flier, and a really good customer, they wouldn’t budge.

That same week, a woman in Ohio who received a rude response to her LinkedIn request, shared the note on social media. It went viral, embarrassing the woman who wrote it. More on that in a minute.

I was so frustrated that the airline wouldn’t help me, I drafted a scathing blog post naming the company. A small part of me wanted to use the decent social media following I’ve developed to bad-mouth the airline. But I didn’t post it, and never really planned to – I just needed to vent and writing helped me do that. I deleted the post. Then, I had an idea.

I researched the hotel where I was staying, discovered it was part of an independent company, not a big hotel chain, and the CEO was a woman. I found her email address and sent her a note. I told her I knew the mistake was mine, I knew the hotel did not have to help me, but I asked her if she would be willing to help me out anyway – one working mother to another.

She said yes! Now back to that other situation.

After the LinkedIn story blew up on social, the author of the note apologized and the recipient graciously accepted and shared the apology on Twitter, but the damage was already done. While the public venting – warranted or not – may have prompted the apology, might the outcome have been the same had she first opted for a more direct response? We’ll never know.

But we do know that in my situation, after the CEO accommodated a request she didn’t need to, I too have taken to social, but rather than venting about the airline, I’ve shared how wonderful Denihan, the hotel company, is.

The moral of these stories? Use your power for good, not evil. That’s one of the principles we follow at Double Forte. Social media can be a positive force when we want it to be. And we positively want it to be.

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