The Copywriter's Crucible

Surviving the Vagaries of the Freelance Life

How UPS effectively used social media to squash a rumor

Posted by rachelwriter on January 14, 2010

Photo Courtesy: Flickr/yung grasshopper

Yet another reason why it’s SO important for brands to be on social media to monitor what’s being said about them….

Today, I noticed that a Facebook connection had posted the following to her status:

“UPS is shipping anything under 50 lbs to Haiti FOR FREE! PLEASE FORWARD TO ALL or PASTE on your FB!!!! THANKS”

I’ll admit, at first, I was tempted to copy and paste her message to my own Facebook status and share it with the rest of my social media contacts.  But then, my inner journalist stopped me dead in my tracks: Oh yeah?  Says who?!?  (After all, I didn’t want any part in spreading rumors.)  Surely, if UPS was offering such an outrageous deal, it would be all OVER the company’s Web site–not to mention the mainstream media.  But, after a quick inspection, I saw that it was not.

What I did find, however, was a UPS blog post–yes! UPS has a blog! :)–in which the company cleared things up once and for all.  Turns out, what had been circulating on the ‘net about free shipping to Haiti was, indeed, a rumor.  But the company didn’t just use social media to squash the rumor; it also used it as a vehicle to promote the company’s benevolence and good Samaritanism during a time of need:

“At UPS, we’re committed to delivering aid and supporting relief efforts around the world. Through The UPS Foundation, we’re giving $1 million (USD) in cash and in-kind aid to help the people of Haiti.”

The blog then goes on to offer resources to those who wish to donate to disaster relief efforts.

What a terrific showcasing of the value of brands using social media to communicate their messages to their consumers.  Had UPS not been monitoring Facebook and Twitter and the blogosphere, they’d have stepped right into a global public relations nightmare!  (Imagine: millions of charitable folks, worldwide, lining up outside UPS with their care packages, expecting free shipment to Haiti… only to find out it was a big fat lie.  Definitely. Not.  Good.)

By being active and vigilant on the Internet, UPS was able to effectively monitor its brand, set the record straight about its response to the earthquake in Haiti, and squash a potentially devastating rumor long before it had the chance wreak havoc. 

If that’s not a reason for your company to jump on the social media bandwagon, then I don’t know what is!



4 Responses to “How UPS effectively used social media to squash a rumor”

  1. Rachel – thanks for the feedback on our social media outreach. We’ve certainly been busy educating folks online about the rumor. As you pointed out, it’s given us an opportunity to talk about our global disaster relief effort at our blog (htt:// and let people know how they can help.

    Debbie Curtis-Magley
    UPS Public Relations

    • No problem, Debbie. It’s important for brands, both big and small, to monitor the social media landscape to see what others are saying about them. And, in cases like these, to step in and clear up un-truths. Bravo to UPS for staying connected with your consumers in real-time!

  2. Rachel- I love this post!!! Our firm helps companies manage and monitor their brand through many different avenues including the monitoring of social media. It is something that many companies of all sizes still feel they don’t need to bother with. Your post proves that they do! I hope more companies will realize the importance of this in the future. The more people write about it, like you have, the better it will be.

    UPS is great at being on the cutting edge of social media and everything else for that matter. I am and always have been a fan!!

    PS- I love your clip art too!!

    • Thanks so much, Kathy! I agree with you: if companies aren’t out there talking about their products online, someone ELSE is–and that may not be a good thing! It’s in the best interest of all companies, large and small, to be active on social media in some capacity. Thanks for reading and sharing! Glad you liked the post–and the clip art. 😉

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