September 4, 2013
People often use Twitter to complain about whatever is bothering them, but usually the gripes quickly fade into obscurity. As Time.com reports, one very frustrated customer of British Airways wrung more mileage from his grievance by paying for a “sponsored Tweet,” or a Twitter advertisement, to bemoan the poor service he says his family received from the airline. Along with his 400 followers on Twitter, another 50,000 users in New York and the United Kingdom potentially saw the paid message from Hasan Syed, a Chicago-based business owner.
Marty St. George, a marketing executive at JetBlue, wrote in a Twitter message that using such an ad to voice a consumer complaint could be the start of a new trend. But it’s a forum that requires money and work — Syed reportedly spent at least $1,000 on the promoted tweet and carefully chose the users he wanted to target. To increase the stunt’s potential for “going viral,” followers of British Airways received the tweet, as did followers of news organizations.
British Airways eventually apologized to Syed via Twitter and returned his father’s luggage, Time.com reports. When used to air legitimate complaints, ads such as his might “help keep big businesses more honest,” Syed said. For companies that give their customers poor service, “the repercussions could be far more damaging.” — Greg Beaubien