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 Please Provide a thorough description of the corporation and the
products or services it sells. In your professional opinion, what
caused the selected corporation to seek bankruptcy protection? What
could or should have been done differently by top management to
avoid the corporate financial failure that was experienced by the
publicly traded corporation that you selected? Paper must be
written in APA style with in-text citations and references. The
case study has been uploaded. 

                                              Case Study on
General Motors

Background: The General Motors Company, also known as GM, is a
U.S.-based automaker with its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.
The company manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries, recently
employed 244,500 people around the world, and sells and services
vehicles in some 140 countries. 
Business Need: Following declaration of Chapter 11/363 Bankruptcy,
General Motors needed to completely redefine its established brand
image, which appeared to consumers as faceless, nameless, outdated
and impenetrable. The new GM brand structure would require a more
accessible and transparent feeling in order to help humanize the
brand.
Social Media Solution: Build a diverse social media team, with CEO
engagement and support, to handle all logistical/management social
media operations, which allow the newly defined GM brand mentality
of openness and engagement to be clearly communicated and fully
accessible to the media, to the general public, and most
importantly, to customers.
Business Result: Held market share with four fewer brands,
increased awareness and consideration, created solid customer
loyalty and positive brand awareness.
What actually happened: As the financial industry collapsed into
decay in late 2007, things progressively worsened across all
industries in America, including the automotive industry. A year
later, corporate giants and small businesses alike continued to
fear the worst was yet to come.
Despite countless efforts to prevent the inevitable bankruptcy
filings including “putting divisions and parts operations up for
sale and cutting the size of its workforce repeatedly,” problems
continued to worsen. On June 1, 2009, GM’s worst nightmare became a
reality when it filed for bankruptcy. Because of this drastic
setback, and even with the U.S. government estimated to pledge an
additional “$30 billion at least … on top of the $20 billion handed
to [GM] already,” the future seemed uncertain for one of the Big
Three American auto giants.
GM had weathered many difficult financial climates throughout its
long history. In an article for Business Week reviewing General
Motor’s current financial state, reporter Ed Wallace makes a key
observation: “[Even] after the 1910 Financial Panic ended, rising
sales proved that GM was viable in any condition.”
Over the decades since its founding in 1908, the company has
persevered through the good times and bad. But more importantly,
the GM brand has built a name for itself to represent “for almost a
century a symbol of American industrial might;” In a word, GM’s
brand has proven to be resilient. Yet consumer confidence had
plummeted and the company needed a fresh approach in order to
restore faith in its heritage brand.
Because of its consistently solid market share and size, GM had a
big opportunity to proactively rebound from this destructive period
and rebuild a lost relationship with its customers. It did so with
social media. In May 2009, GM put together an extended social media
team consisting of members with backgrounds in finance, media
relations and marketing. Their task: implement and oversee a tidal
wave of social media touch points that introduced the freshly
restructured GM brand mentality with openness and consumers at the
center.
First, using platforms like Twitter and Facebook, GM’s social media
team listened carefully to what was being said about its brand and
acted quickly to rectify misconceptions about the company. For
example, Mary Henige, Director of Social Media & Digital
Communications for GM, saw a comment on Twitter from a customer who
wanted GM to stop closing down smaller dealers and instead to “shut
down their company-owned dealerships.”
Within seconds, a member of the team responded to that customer
explaining that at GM, actually there are no “company-owned
dealerships.” In reality, all dealerships are independent, often
family-owned businesses passed down through generations. Although
this example illustrates only one customer’s incorrect perception,
it’s highly likely that many others probably thought similarly,
which impacts GM’s brand negatively. However, when GM used a social
media vehicle like Twitter to publicly and positively respond to
the misconception, they were able to correct the negative comment
proactively and without distancing the customer. The era of social
media makes handling this type of communication with a customer
more possible than ever before.
Communicating and listening intently to a customer is ALSO one of
the most important things a business should be doing at all times.
This is just one of many examples of how GM was able to set the
record straight by communicating directly with customers and
prospects via social media. Next, GM created an unprecedented
program giving the public direct access to the CEO via social
media. GM’s CEO at the time, Fritz Henderson, understood the
importance and necessity of active listening, being open and
engaging with consumers. Through a series of live web events,
customers, the media, and the general public were encouraged to
participate in Q & A sessions and press conferences with
Henderson.
The ability to speak one-on-one with the CEO of a major corporation
like GM seemed almost too good to be true, and in fact, some
assumed it was just a PR “hoax.” However, staff recorded Henderson
typing his answers during a web chat using Flip Cam technology in
order to prove his active participation and to thank GM supporters.
The video coverage was posted on GM’s Facebook page as well as on
vehicles, and was quickly disseminated across the social web.
An “Ask Fritz” forum was also created whereby customers could
exchange ideas and information with the CEO. Within six months,
over 16,500 customer comments and questions were addressed. GM
managed not only to “wow” its customers with this campaign, but it
set a new standard of engagement, demonstrating its values of
openness and transparency, building consumer confidence and
deepening customer loyalty.
Additionally, GM launched an interactive website,
GMReinvention.com, inviting visitors to “Take a look at the new
GM.” The site provides a wealth of informative videos about GM and
its vehicles, as well as opportunities to chat, get industry news
and get to know members of the organization. Since June 2009, the
site has generated an impressive 1.5 million unique video views and
1.6 million unique web visits.
These enthusiastic customers create buzz around GM products via
their social networks, helping GM build its business. Additionally,
these “brand ambassadors” often go to great lengths to defend the
brand in the face of negativity or to correct misinformation that
may be circulating about GM.
These conversations are taking place in real time in the social
media space, which means they are reaching an audience of hundreds
if not thousands. And the message is that much more powerful and
credible coming from a peer rather than from a GM representative.
In this age of social media and the aftermath of the recession,
corporations more than ever before are held to a higher standard of
ethics, professionalism and transparency. It’s becoming harder to
bury flaws because social media serves to magnify them. Instead of
running away from social media, General Motors embraced the new
technology and seized the opportunity to reinvent its outdated
brand.
Thanks to GM’s savvy use of social media, results have been steady
market share, brand awareness and customer loyalty. While there’s
still more work to be done, this iconic American brand sees a
bright future as it continues to reinvent itself through the power
of social media.

 

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