Advertising in social media may take on a different meaning after one flyer took a new approach to complaining about a company’s service.
Hasan Syed purchased a promoted tweet in the New York City and United Kingdom markets to complain after British Airways lost his father’s luggage. Using Twitter’s self-serve ad platform, Syed (Twitter handle: @HVSVN) paid for messages, including “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”
While the tweet was certainly not the kind of ad campaign a company would run on Twitter, the airline made the problem worse with its response. Noting that its account is only monitored Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., British Airways (@British_Airways) asked Syed for his claim number, and said it couldn’t message him directly.
Questioning how a 24/7 airline couldn’t monitor a social media feed around the clock, Syed responded that he was a follower of the airline on the social networking site – meaning the company was able to directly message him.
Syed declined to tell Mashable how much he spent on his tweets, which were picked up by various media outlets. He continued his anti-airline tweets (such as “@BritishAirways is the worst airline ever” and “how does a billion dollar corp only have 9-5 social media support for a business that operates 24/7?”) until British Airways found his luggage and apologized.
Why it matters: This story is an important cautionary tale for advertisers and marketers for two reasons. First, Syed’s willingness to purchase a promoted tweet presents a real concern for companies facing disgruntled, social media-savvy consumers. Whether others are willing to open their wallets to publicize their complaints remains to be seen, but brands should be aware of the possibility. And secondly, every airline loses luggage. Even Syed’s promoted tweets probably wouldn’t have resulted in a high-profile brand embarrassment, but for British Airways’ bungled response. An inability to figure out how to message Syed and the company’s failure to monitor its feeds made a mountain out of a molehill, reminding advertisers and marketers to sharpen their social media knowledge and skills.