The Dark Heart of Social Media Marketing

Over the past few days, I’ve seen several of the A-listers on Twitter tweeting directly to the airlines themselves about problems they were having with flights. Sounds like a neat use of Social Media? Not hardly, when you look at it closer…

You see, in the first case, the A-lister in question turned up late for a flight, which happened to be overbooked. So this A-lister came up without a seat, along with something like 8 other people. Immediately the A-lister began to whine on Twitter about the party at SMDBcon (or where ever these folks are currently flocking to join the conversation), while tweeting directly at the airline’s corporate twitter account to help them. Veiled threats of a full on Twitter flogging ensued, then suddenly, the final “I’m on, but in the last row…” tweet.

Here’s the problem. What about the other 8 folks? I’m not saying Twitter was the resolution to this problem, but if it was, it was exactly the wrong move. If they did “help out” all they did was create a whole new level of support for a very minor subset of their customer base, the Twitter enabled self-obsessed web marketing-types. And remember, this person was going to be late for a party. What about the others? How many of them missed something important?

For the record: Internet: 1.5 billion users, Twitter, around 8 million (and a large portion of those don’t actively use it); so the question becomes this: why would you want to create another tier of customer support just for these folks? Are the Twitterati that important to us? Is it incumbent on business to make sure an A-lister who was late for the flight is hurried off to their party?

Think it’s just an isolated incident? The same week I saw another A-Lister tweet that he’d been kicked off a flight. Then for the next hour he bitched about the attendant that threw him off, for having refused to turn his cell phone off after the doors were shut. That’s an FAA regulation, and for the record, if you travel very much at all, you should know that you’d be summarily tossed if you refused. This fellow went as far as tweeting direct to the airline, using the attendants name, demanding they should be summarily fired.

So let’s think carefully about this: do we really want to go down the slippery path of creating another tier of support, so that we can enable people to get around the existing process? Discuss….

4 Replies to “The Dark Heart of Social Media Marketing”

  1. Mark,

    Very well said. Social media tools are the latest vehicle for sarcastic complainers to amplify their voices. Many are creative and articulate, but find that their audience rewards vitriol and belligerence, so they amp up. I’d love to have a stat on all Web content, which showed simply percent of positive, negative, and neutral, and the trend line.

    I’m personally pledged to keeping it positive online. I’ll have my issues to air, but try to offer helpful suggestions in those cases.

    Side note: I’ve always held the least respect for people who meet flying frustration with personal attacks on the staff or the mothers of fussy babies. Patient restraint and empathy wins my regard.

  2. Exactly…I was flying out of Malaysia to Heathrow one time and listened while a belligerent flyer demanded an upgrade to business class. I was taken by the agent next to him, and calmly said “if it’s possible, you’d be doing both myself and the person who’d have to sit next to me a favor by upgrading me…” She put a finger to her lips, and quietly upgraded me, all while the agent next to us explained that “an upgrade is not possible” to the other guy.

    He was rather shocked to see me settling into business when he boarded the flight. But I fear he was incapable of learning the lesson.

  3. The twitslimes really annoy me no end. We’ve created an environment where self-proclaimed Masters of the Internet Universe have elevated themselves way beyond their actual paygrade or experience level and give them entirely too much credit for work they’ve never done.
    Sod them all and let them work in a job where they get blisters on their hands!

    great post, Mark!

    best,
    jim Forbes

  4. Right on Jim!

    I’ve offered before and I offer here again – if anyone wants to *REALLY* learn what social media is, I have plenty of opportunity for people to get their hands dirty and get experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.