#Payback: Disgruntled Customer Burns @British_Airways With Promoted Tweet

Paying for tweets so that they’ll be seen by a wider audience is no longer just a strategy for brands.

#Payback: Disgruntled Customer Burns @British_Airways With Promoted Tweet

There’s been a new response in the ongoing conversation between consumers and brands over social media.

Hasan Syed, who owns a hair-care company in Chicago, flew British Airways business class on a recent work trip to Europe. As many, many, many people now know, they lost his dad’s luggage. Syed used Twitter’s self-service ad platform to post his complaint to the New York City and U.K. markets in the form of a promoted tweet: “Don’t fly @British_Airways. Their customer service is horrendous.”

Promoted tweets are traditionally used by brands to promote content to a wider audience. The tweets appear at the top of users’ Twitter feeds. That an individual can utilize the platform to slam a brand raises the question of what exactly the parameters are for promoted tweets. But, in some ways, this actually strengthens the idea of the platform: If you can afford it, promoted tweets are one way customers might be able to quickly get a brand’s attention.

However, British Airways, usually known for being more nimble on social media, took more than eight hours to respond to Syed on Twitter and still hasn’t spoken to the press. But Marty St. George, SVP of marketing at JetBlue, did weigh in approvingly:

[image: Flickr user blackbunkers]

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.