Is Your Company A Social (Media) Grown-Up?

by Jami Winstrom| April 10, 2018

Back in 2013, a disgruntled customer of British Airways, Hasan Syed, simply tweeted, “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.” (Do you remember that one? It might seem like a lifetime ago, but the lesson is still very relevant.) Hasan had obviously had a bad experience, and wanted to share it. It’s not really shocking in our current culture. After all, we use the digital socialsphere to get what we want and need.

For good or for bad, we all like to have our opinions heard. And let’s face it, sometimes it just feels good to let out a feisty rant. We live in a world where we can let everyone in our social network know what we think and how we feel by a few clicks on a keyboard. We can rate products on, or we can give high praise to the quinoa burger at a local restaurant on This kind of thing is taken to the digital world all the time because of one truth: People listen to other people.

So what’s the big deal about the British Airways tweet? Syed didn’t just get it out; he made sure everyone was listening by promoting his tweet. The promoted amount was never revealed, but in the first six hours after the tweet, it gained over 25,000 impressions (with over 5,000 shares on Twitter and Facebook). At the time, this was by no means viral, but it did have huge implications. The issue wasn’t with the complaint itself. After all, voicing his opinion was Syed’s prerogative. Instead, it’s what the company did with the complaint that matters. This is what sets a great business apart from the good ones.

Mature, grown-up companies should have a social media marketing strategy in place. If they don’t, they could much more easily run into issues like British Airways did. Syed tweeted at 7:57 pm, and British Airways responded the next day at 3:56 am. Do you see the problem? EIGHT HOURS. It took 1, 2, 3… 8 hours for British Airways to respond to Syed’s tweet. That’s a lot of time to allow a negative tweet to go without a response. But look even closer. When they did respond, British Airways said, “…our Twitter feed is open 0900-1700 GMT…” Really? An 8-hour day for a global company that flies people all over the world? Twitter is a 24/7 platform. It doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t even blink.

In this case, if British Airways had a mature social media marketing strategy in place, this kind of thing could have been avoided. Sure, complaints may come, just like we would hope compliments would, too. But again, it’s how we handle them (and when) that shows our social media maturity, or lack thereof.

Most businesses these days use social media (it has been estimated that about 80% of American businesses do in one form or another.) Clearly however, it one thing for us to say that we use social media in our companies, and it is quite another for us to say we have a strategy in place that incorporates social media. As your business matures in its social media marketing, a systematic plan can help ensure you are meeting your marketing objectives and communication plans. And responding quickly is an essential part of that.

Don’t be like British Airways in 2013. Call us today and find out more how we can help your company be a social media grown-up!