Grocery Store Rep. Confronts Tweeting Customer

Social media gurus commented on Rotolo's blog during the immediate days following the event, but as Rotolo had hoped, his open discussion engaged a key contributor:

"Hello ? I want to take this opportunity to accept full responsibility for this situation. I am the Price Chopper employee who triggered this chain of events," Cetawayo posted on Rotolo's blog. "I took matters into my own hands. And though well-intentioned, I clearly went over the line ? without the knowledge of our consumer insights people or my direct supervisor, the Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer and Marketing Services. I was trying to understand and engage a disgruntled customer and clearly lost sight of my goal."

Cetawayo, however, was not present at the discussion at SU. And due to company policy, Reale could only comment that "Price Chopper took corrective action both with our social media policy and with the associate." She said she could not discuss specific actions taken.

Developing Social Media Etiquette

In addition to discussing the conflict, the group also touched on how social media is changing the way people get information.

"Once [information] gets out there, you can't stop it," Reale said to the crowd. "There was a lot of misinformation out there. And security had to be raised in our stores in Syracuse because it became like a lynch mob."

In many ways, the discussion brought up more questions than answers.

"How do you draw the line between employees representing the company on their personal social media accounts and yet not running your employees' lives?" one student asked.

"That is a great question," Reale said. "I don't think there's an answer to that yet."

With social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare dominating cyberspace, profiles showcasing people's personal and professional lives are becoming more difficult to maintain.

As Golub said in today's discussion, "Social media is changing our business. You get the good, the bad and the ugly."

But what started out as an ugly conflict emerged into an open discussion of understanding.

"I think it's awesome that [Price Chopper is] a part of this discussion," Rotolo said at the end of the event. "No company is going to make every customer happy, and I think Price Chopper understands that." And many of the students left satisfied as well. Alyssa Henry, 22, is a Masters student studying Information Management at SU's iSchool and has been following the Price Chopper fall-out since it began.

"Where I thought [this discussion] was lacking was Price Chopper taking responsibility for that employee ? but overall I think they did a great job," Henry said. "I really respect Price Chopper for coming.

Reale said this recent incident has contributed to an expansion of their social media presence.

"Last month we gained about 500 Twitter followers," she said.

And as of now, sales seem to be unaffected. "There is no indication that there's been any loss in customers or market share due to this associate's behavior," Reale said.

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