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Consumer fights back using Twitter

Graeme Parton

Here at Pressroom, we’re often talking about how social media benefits our clients. In a nutshell, sites like  Facebook – and perhaps Twitter even more so – allow businesses to break the walls between themselves and their target audience members down – they provide a level playing field, with minimal outlay.

If a firm can get people talking positively on these social networking sites, the buzz can spread and profits can start to rise overnight. It is important, however, for business owners to remember that social media is a two-way thing – the impact that word-of-mouth promotion has can be huge, but it definitely works both ways. It’s fair to say that the bad words often travel at a much faster rate than the good ones.

This was exemplified recently when a disgruntled consumer took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the service his family had received from British Airways. Hasan Syed’s parents had flown with BA, who then lost their luggage in transit.

In what could be seen as something of a digital David & Goliath story, the businessman made a post on the micro-blogging site which read:

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

Looking to maximise the impact he had on the company in his crosshairs, Mr Syed then paid Twitter a small fee to promote the Tweet.

This ‘promote’ feature, which allows users to boost the visibility of their tweets, tends to be used by businesses and marketing agencies in order to reach wider audiences. The paid-for posts are highlighted on the company’s feed but are otherwise seen as normal messages which can be designated as ‘favourites’ or retweeted.

It isn’t known how much Mr Syed paid to boost the tweet but it is thought he focused on highlighting it for people in the UK and New York. Shortly after going live, it was picked up on by a number of prominent news sites, allowing it to reach thousands of Twitter users.

British Airways eventually became aware of the hubbub and responded by saying:

“We would like to apologise to the customer for the inconvenience caused. We have been in contact with the customer and the bag is due to be delivered today [Tuesday].”

Mr Syed’s actions may have been simple and relatively inexpensive, but they have no doubt had a significant impact. The story should act as a stark reminder for businesses to do everything in their power to keep customers happy.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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