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GM’s Buick Rejection on Twitter — and What We Can Learn From It

If a friend tells you they’re not a huge fan of your three wolves T-shirt, well, maybe you’d defiantly wear it to dinner anyway because you know it looks, um, fabulous.  But if your customers or candidates told you a new product of yours was hideous, would you scrap it? Well, that’s exactly what General Motors Co. recently did, with its recent cancellation of plans to launch a new Buick sport-utility vehicle after asking for feedback from its customers, employees, and many others about the vehicle — and then actually listening to that feedback.

As Vice Chairman of GM Tom Stephens wrote on the GM FastLane blog after the decision was made:

The Buick crossover we showed received consistent feedback from large parts of all the audiences that it didn’t fit the premium characteristics that customers have come to expect from Buick.

The negative buzz all started when Twitter users started calling the vehicle a “Vuick,” a reference to GM’s Saturn Vue that provided the basis for the Buick. Consumers’ complaints stemmed around the idea that the Buick was simply a retread of the Vue, rather than a new design. Add hashtag #vuick to a tweet, get others talking about it, and before you know it — Twitter’s all abuzz about it. And apparently, GM was watching — and listening. And the criticism didn’t end there.

We were all struck by the consistency of the criticism of the compact crossover. And what we decided to do in response is a good example of the essence of the new General Motors… acting quickly, and boldly, and listening to feedback from customers, employees, dealers, media and just about anyone else with an opinion, Stephens continued to say on the GM FastLane blog.

It appears that social media is taking companies to task in their business practices and behaviors. With customers, clients, and candidates reacting and sharing information and opinions on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, businesses are forced to take a harder look at what they’re doing — or suffer the consequences of ignoring the chatter and damaging valuable relationships.

I believe that this is a positive movement. Business practices are becoming not only more transparent, but more interactive. As an employer, you have probably already noticed this interactiveness if you participate on social networks. Social networking Web sites are be valuable tools for companies to embrace in order to connect with candidates, establish a brand presence online, and build valuable relationships.

It’s important to remember that you have the power to build or destroy relationships with candidates. You can ignore them or answer questions defensively, or you can reach out, engage, help — and, as GM did, listen. Really listen to what candidates and employees want. After all, it’s the best free advice out there.

So I ask: Are you paying attention to what your candidates and employees are saying about you? How are you responding?

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
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