Social Media Levels Takes On Corporate Giants
September 10, 2013

Social Media Takes On Corporate Giants

There is an old saying that you can’t fight city hall, but that was before the days of social media. Today, Twitter can be used to make a single voice cry out and be relayed by thousands. It might not be city hall, but a promoted tweet was used to complain about British Airways

The key here, reported by the BBC, is that it was a “promoted tweet,” as in one that someone paid to have promoted.

Hasan Syed was upset over the way British Airways was handling his father’s lost luggage, so he decided not only to complain about it but opted to pay to have the tweet promoted. The BBC noted, “The promoted tweet bought by Mr Syed reads: ‘Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.’”

Promoted tweets are those that are bought by advertisers who seek to reach a wider audience. In other words, while Hasan Syed may have only had a few followers (that part is unclear), but by spending in excess of $1,000 he was able to have his rant read by 50,000 Twitter users in the United Kingdom.

So, why wouldn’t everyone just pony up the money and get their voice heard? Well, because Tweets are reportedly paid for on a cost-per-engagement basis and that means these can cost tens of thousands of dollars if it really gets picked up. Buyers pay per interaction so, retweets, favorites and replies are charged.

In this case, his tweet was read by thousands before BA responded, noting that it was “Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM [direct message] your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”

Now, what is also notable is that Syed bought the tweet via Twitter’s self-service ad platform and he specifically targeted New York and U.K. markets. It allowed the tweet to be picked up by the media – and hence why this reporter is now following the story.

Shashank Nigam of the SimpliFlying blog also added:

“The implications are tremendous for the future of airline customer service, especially on social media: A man whose father’s bag British Airways lost just spent money to buy a promoted tweet against British Airways in the New York City and UK markets! In the first six hours since the tweet was promoted, it had garnered over 25,000 impressions only on Twitter. This excludes coverage on wildly popular blogs like Mashable.”

Clearly, we are seeing a case where the little guy can level the playing field, but this is hardly a David vs. Goliath situation that the media is making it.

For one thing, Syed actually did pay $1,000+ to promote his tweet. This is hardly an option for many users, and even those who can afford it are unlikely to throw down what is likely the cost of an economy ticket from Chicago to Paris (the route of the particular flight in question).

If anything, this likely has diminished the effectiveness that regular tweets and posts will likely have going forward, but we can’t really knock Syed for trying.

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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