We’ve all had days where we felt we were treated unfairly by a company and ended up feeling helpless.

Did you know that you can use social media to fight back?

Sarah Sal shared the following story with us about her friend’s encounter with a car rental company while en route to a show in Germany:

10544861_678589855557137_799803999_n“This happened to my friend Emaline Delapaix when she booked a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

They overbooked and told her they couldn’t honor the reservation just 45 minutes before she was due to pick up the car.

My friend is a singer / songwriter / musician and makes her living performing her own original music all over Europe. Having her reservation canceled last minute meant she lost money and not honor her commitments.

Most rental car companies offer a complimentary upgrade to the next available car class for these situations. When no cars are available, they’ll offer to help organize a car with one of their competitors and pay the difference.

When my friend called multiple times to find a solution, they said “sorry, nothing we can do, have a nice day.”, in verbatim.

Wishing someone a nice day when you ruined theirs, making them lose paid work is simply not good enough, especially when Emaline discovered there was nothing else available with any other rental car companies in Berlin at such short notice.

So I told her to take a megaphone and announce what happened publicly on her fan page and I would amplify the message using Facebook ads.

Below is the post my friend made on her wall:

Later, I promoted that post using Facebook ad with the aim of reaching executives at  Enterprise Rent-A-Car.”

The ad campaign had 3 levels of targeting:

1. Fans

At the time of writing this post, Emaline’s fan page had over 3000 likes. Getting likes, shares and comments on the post was important, as it would show Enterprise Rent-A-Car that people are listening to her complaints.

The first set of ads was targeted at her fans to make sure we got as much engagement/reaction from them. We even had a comment from someone saying they did not like the company because of a similar bad experience.

2. Enterprise Rent-A-Car executives

The campaign targeted executives at 3 locations. The German headquarter in Frankfurt, the European headquarter in London, and the global headquarter in Clayton, Missouri.

To reach the executives, 3 targeting methods were used:

A) Targeting people that listed Enterprise Rent-A-Car as an employer. While located in one of the 3 headquarters in Frankfurt, London, or Clayton.

B) Targeting people that have Enterprise Rent-A-Car as an interest.

We also targeted based on people who:

– Have a management or PR/marketing work title.

– While located in one of the 3 headquarters in Frankfurt, London, or Clayton.

-Someone located in Frankfurt, London, or Clayton, while working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

There are more chances that they are also a fan of the company fan page. Of course this does not mean that everyone seeing the ad works for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

C) Same as b) but instead of using work title in our targeting, we are using partner categories to reach corporate executives.

Of course this option is only possible in the US since Partner Categories are not yet available outside of the US.

 3. Media

This ad set targeted both local Berlin newspapers and travel publications:

If you have a story worth sharing, why not show it to people working in the media for a few dollars?


It worth mentioning that the ads started running on Friday evening (European time zone). By Saturday morning my friend asked me to stop them.


The manager of the Berlin branch called her band offering to reimburse them what they would be paying to another competitor that morning. After running the ads, it is interesting to see how the situation changed 100%.

Before we set up the ads, my friend called them to try and find a solution and they ignored her.  Afterwards, the branch manager called her personally offering to fix the situation and admitting they had broken the law and were very sorry.

How much did it cost? $10.94- a small amount to run some laser-targeted Facebook ads.

The ad got 18 clicks from the German headquarters in Frankfurt, 55 from the European headquarters in London, and 30 clicks from the main headquarters in Clayton Missouri. For the media campaign we got a total of 17 clicks.

Here’s a screenshot from the ad spend breakdown per ad set:

The ads using workplace targeting had the highest CTR and cheapest CPC.

Also interesting was that most clicks came from mobile phones- perhaps being a weekend evening in Europe and a holiday in the US?

Dennis Yu of BlitzMetrics warns: “If your company pissed off a major celebrity with poor service, how would you respond? Consider that even ordinary consumers have this power now.”

JD Lasica from SocialMedia.biz shares his own experiences, and outlines how to conduct yourself when amplifying your complaints via social:

For years, social media has been tilting the balance of power between bad actors in the corporate world and consumers. From Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars to last week’s hellish Comcast customer service call, our first impulse today is to take to our social networks to announce how we’ve been wronged.

I did this recently when my iPad Air was stolen at a W Hotel — and got W headquarters to buy a replacement iPad the next day.

The idea of taking this one step further by buying micro-targeted Facebook ads is genius — because, ultimately, you need to cut through the corporate hierarchy and reach the decision-makers directly with a genuine, human message.

My advice for those who are wronged? Don’t be abusive or over-the-top angry. Express remorse that the company isn’t living up to its values or responsibilities.

Have you ever complained about a bad experience with a company via social? How did they respond?

Special thanks  to Sarah Sal for her story and campaign data.