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Is it a bird, is it a plane?!

Customer takes on British Airways with promoted tweet

Customer’s tweet takes on airline

September 4, 2013 11:53 by

On September 2, a disgruntled customer stumbled upon a new way of using social media to take on a large corporation.

Fed up with the service of British Airways, after his father’s baggage was lost during a weekend trip from Chicago to Paris, businessman Hasan Syed took to Twitter to vent.

Instead of directing a regular ‘tweet’ at the London-based carrier’s account, as many of us would normally do, he paid to have his complaint promoted on Twitter’s self-service ad platform.

It reads: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”

It is unclear how much it cost Syed to promote his complaint across the UK and New York, as he has refused to share that information. However, Shashank Nigam, chief executive of aviation consultancy SimpliFlying, told the BBC it was approximately US$1,000.

Promoted posts are given higher prominence in the Twitter feed than regular posts, but can still be shared (ie, retweeted).

According to the BBC, it took ten hours for British Airways to pick up on the tweet as it was spreading all over the social network. The airline released a statement saying: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM [direct message] your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”

Generally speaking, promotions on Twitter are paid for by advertisers looking to reach a wider, yet more specific, audience.

What was once a one-way conversation – where brands would convey the messages they wanted us to hear at the time they wanted us to hear it – is now an open dialogue (or in some cases, argument) for the public to read.

While communications and brand experts would strongly advise international airlines to adopt a social media strategy that involves a 24/7 operational account, it’s also interesting to consider that paying to promote complaints could emerge as a new trend; if you’re willing to pay, that is.

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