The promoted tweets: The new customer service

Written by JessicaCrisp

A complaint from a disgruntled British Airways passenger has gone viral after he paid for a promoted tweet to slam the airline’s customer service.  

A complaint from a disgruntled British Airways passenger has gone viral after he paid for a promoted tweet to slam the airline’s customer service.  

Hasan Syed, who uses the Twitter handle @HVSVN, bought the tweet though the site’s self-service ad platform after becoming fed up with the way the company was dealing with his father’s lost luggage.

The tweet simply said: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”

Promoting tweets until BA solved it

In the first six hours since the tweet was promoted, it had garnered over 25,000 impressions on Twitter, according to aviation marketing consultancy SimpliFlying.

Hasan Syed then continued to bombard Twitter with posts and pictures criticising the airline and vowing to run ads until BA had solved the problem.

Tweets included “Thanks for ruining my business trip, I shouldn’t have flown @British Airways, never flying with you again,” and “What is taking @British Airways customer service so long? They’ve had over a day to figure this out.”

Much support on the social media site

Allegedly it took BA ten hours to pick up on the tweet: “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.”

Promoted tweets are generally bought by advertisers who want to reach a wider audience. The paid-for tweet is given high prominence in the Twitter feed of the relevant company but otherwise acts as a normal message and can be retweeted by others.

The promoted tweet has amassed a lot of support on the social media site, with fellow users sharing their experiences with the airline’s customer service support.

Efforts had paid off

It seems Hased Syed’s effort have paid off. When contacted by Kettle, BA said: “We would like to apologise to the customer for the inconvenience caused. We have been in contact with the customer and his bag has now been delivered.”

Hasad Syed revealed today that the tweet gained 76.8K impressions and 14.6K engagements after a total spend of $1000 on the campaign. He signed off by saying “I got what I wanted. I win.”

Setting a new trend

However, it appears the first move of this kind has set a new trend. Marty St George, president of marketing at JetBlue Airways, tweeted: “Interesting: a disgruntled passenger is buying a promoted tweet slamming a brand where they had a bad experience. That’s a new trend in itself!”

The use of ad platforms within social media by the public to take on big corporations could have huge implications for the future of customer service.

Shashank Nigam, chief executive of aviation consultancy SimpliFlying, told the BBC: “These tools are easy to use and brand detractors have the same access to them as corporations. Mr Syed targeted it smartly.”

“Airlines are going to have to start having 24/7 customer services and maybe they need to train up call centre reps to respond to messages on Facebook and Twitter.”

Deeson creative, a digital communications agency in Kent, has labelled the new trend “complainvertising.” On their blog, they predict complainvertising as the future: “Today most people use their personal social network to warn others about poor service. Tomorrow is about masterminding your own complain campaign.”

What do you think? Will the promoted tweet change how customer service with airlines is done? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.