A little over a year ago, my boyfriend and I had a few friends over our apartment on a Friday night before heading downtown for the evening. We live about 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale beach, a hotspot with nightclubs, bars, and fun. When a friend of mine suggested we take an “Uber” rather than driving, I had no idea what she was talking about. Little did I know, I’d become a self-proclaimed brand advocate for this oddly-named company.
Uber describes itself as “everyone’s personal driver”. Users download a free application to their smartphones, enter credit card information, and request a driver when they’re ready to go. Uber provides a photo of the driver, the car make and model, and the license plate model so you know which car will be picking you up. The entire process takes place using credit cards, so there is no need to carry or exchange cash (except for tipping purposes, of course).
One of the most unique aspects of Uber is the ability to rate drivers based on your experience. Uber tracks these ratings, and if a driver falls below a certain rating he or she is no longer allowed to participate as an Uber driver. Only after taking remedial Uber courses can a driver begin working again.
Negative Publicity for Uber
Uber has a rather aggressive expansion strategy. In a nutshell, the basically enter cities without permission to infiltrate the marketplace. By providing great rates, convenience, and excellent customer service, Uber gains loyal followers. They then use those loyal followers to help influence passing of legislation that allows them to continue to do business in a certain area. For example, in Broward county, Uber has met quite a bit of resistance from taxi companies and local legislators. Since then, they’ve sent out emails asking for signatures on petitions to “Keep Uber in Broward County”. They’ve also requested Uber riders reach out personally to local commissioners to help sway their decisions.
In addition to asking riders for their support, Uber also has created some very interesting marketing campaigns utilizing social media. This week, I’ll be spotlighting two of these campaigns.
The Food Pantry
On March 20, Uber of Broward County teamed up with the Pantry of Broward to collect food for families in need. Riders were sent an email the day before encouraging them to clean out their pantries for donations. When ready, users simply requested an Uber using the “GIVE” button within the application, and within about 15 minutes a driver would come to your door to gather your donations free of charge.
The Sixth Star Campaign
Recently, Uber launched its Sixth Star Campaign. When rating drivers through the Uber app, riders have the option of choosing between 1 and 5 stars, with 5 being the highest rating. The sixth star campaign serves as a sort of “employee of the week” type of recognition for drivers. In this campaign, drivers who go above and beyond are spotlighted on the Uber website and receive a $1000 giftcard.
Whether or not you’re a supporter of Uber, you cannot deny that they’ve taken over the social media space better than any taxi-style company that has come before them. By providing useful and convenient services, creating charity-centric marketing campaigns, and driver success stories, Uber has created a friendly, admirable presence on social media that encourages users to become brand advocates.
Photo Credit: Uber
In this series called Social Media Observations, I’ll be blogging about social media observations for the purpose of encouraging discussion as well as fulfilling the requirements Topic 1 for MMIS 0644.