Taking “Social Suicide” to a New, Literal Level. Is this Good or Bad for Customers and Brands?

For those of you who follow my posts, I tend to post about controversial happenings in the social media world. The media is both a blessing and a curse. Or, perhaps on a more metaphorical level, a double-edged sword. The media can bring your brand business or tear down a reputation quicker than you can heat up a pizza.

Aside from looking at the media as a large entity, let us examine a sector of social media that deals with sensationalizing both the mundane and extraordinary parts of life. I call your attention to a recent occurrence: the JetBlue flight from California to Texas. Approximately 30 minutes into the flight, the right engine experienced a mechanical failure. As a result of this, the plane was immediately landed and every passenger was okay. This accident negatively affected JetBlue and its brand reputation because the social media spread was so viral. What was a rare occurrence quickly became a twitter and YouTube sensation. Passengers recorded the entire debacle and one YouTube video garnered more than one million views. The man could have very well died- but instead of praying or contacting his family, he chose to film the ordeal.

Have we now reached a point where, when we see something we find beautiful, we look through a lens rather than our own eyes? Have we reached a point where it is more important to film an injustice than to say something?

These videos sparked an ethical and philosophical question for me. Do people nowadays resort to tweeting their feelings rather than sharing with a friend? How has this behavior affected the social media landscape for big and small businesses?

More importantly, how do our outstanding videos and posts affect brands? Let us take a look at JetBlue. Millions of people were aware of the accident. Dozens of articles surfaced about JetBlue and its crisis. Rather than showcasing the valor and bravery exhibited by the captain and crew, videos surfacing focused on the tragic calamity and malfunction.

Now, it is important to note that this occurrence did indeed happen. It is also important to note that engine failure is not typical. Yet with its astounding media prevalence and JetBlue’s lack of strong media presence, this single, isolated incident has shaped the view we have of JetBlue forever.

Consumers often do not realize the impact they have on product and brand success. For example, Amazon reviews provide consumers with (typically) unbiased first-hand accounts of products and reviews. If products do not receive good reviews, they will struggle to make any sales at all. Similarly, Yelp gives consumers the ability to make or break a business. Take, for example, the case of Christopher Dietz. A small business owner in Virgina, Dietz’s company received a defamatory review from a customer claiming that the business did not complete the job and stole jewelry from the customer. As a result, Dietz lost over $300,000 in business. What is more, the allegations from the review were proven false.


This power, while useful for consumers trying to find good products, can often lead to a ‘social suicide’ for many companies. Companies are forced to redress products, revise and create products that better benefit consumers. While this can be seen as a positive for balancing the mix of wants and desires, it can be especially harmful for small businesses using sites like Yelp.

We often times reflect and analyze the social media happenings of businesses but do not often realize the power we have in our own social media voices. Our opinions matter, both to us and to companies. While it is a powerful method of communication, social media should be used methodically. Remember that what you have to say can carry a far greater meaning than ever anticipated. Remember your own voice and your own brand.

Brands need to be mindful of their social media presence, interact with their followers, and quickly address any negative reviews or opinions. By doing so, brands will be able to better control for negative feedback and ensure that consumers are satisfied.

5 thoughts on “Taking “Social Suicide” to a New, Literal Level. Is this Good or Bad for Customers and Brands?

  1. When make it a point to only leave positive reviews on social media sites and anything that can be made public. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if I personally did not like a product or service it should not be by job to influence everyone else. Also, these are real businesses trying to make real money, I would hate to be ignorant and ruin a companies reputation just because of my lousy opnion,


  2. This is going to sound harsh, but it really is a bummer that a lot of people out in the world are so quick to judge, assume, and make a decision based off of something they really have no knowledge over. What happened with the JetBlue flight literally could have happened to any flight, the same way Malaysian Airlines had one plane disappear somewhere into the ocean, and another one be shot down by a bunch of rebels in northeast Ukraine. Is it the company’s fault that unfortunate things happened to them? Absolutely not. Will people think that it’s the company’s fault? Absolutely yes. And that’s exactly why, as you said, companies need to be ON IT when it comes to social media and PR.


  3. It is a absolutely terrible video. But JetBlue is the one to blame since it”s caused by a mechanical problem instead of weather conditions or other situations. On the other hand, I do agree with you about companies need to pay attention to their presence on social media.


  4. The JetBlue incident can be compared to majority of news stories today. Rarely do we hear about the positive things people do, but stories are only written or gain widespread attention when it is about something negative.


  5. Welcome to Yelp. Either five stars, or one star and a “I hated it because of this one bad thing” reviews. Things like this emphasize the all or nothing notion of social media-like or don’t like. Jet Blue dealt with an incident professionally, and without any loss of life. These things happen. However, instead of being lauded for their safety, they were skewered. Shame on you, camera man.


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