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Guy buys a Promoted Tweet to complain about British Airways

Sep 3, 2013

Twitter user Hasan Syed wins the award for most innovative use of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets advertising platform. Personally I’ve never seen Promoted Tweets used for anything other than an extremely thinly veiled attempt to sell me a new smartphone or some vaguely uncomfortable corporate attempt at “cause marketing.” I’ve definitely never seen a Promoted Tweet that didn’t look like it was thought up in an advertising boardroom.

But the platform is an open bid system—anyone can buy and broadcast any message they choose. So Hasan Syed decided to flip the script after what one imagines was an unusually oppressive customer service experience with British Airways. He took to Twitter to buy a Promoted tweet of his own:

BTMqyuJIUAAu7Av Guy buys a Promoted Tweet to complain about British Airways

The Tweet quickly went viral, catching the attention of Jet Blue’s CEO and prompting a post from Mashable. Mashable’s article alone has over 6,000 Facebook likes and 5,000 tweets, so it’s safe to say Syed’s investment paid off.

I think the thing that makes airline experiences so frustrating is that you’re totally powerless. You hand over the bags, queue up for the check-in, and everything is out of your hands. You have precious little recourse for delays or anything else that might go wrong, and the airlines usually greet your complaints with indifference, if they’ll listen at all.

Which is what’s great about Syed’s approach. Facebook ads are available for relatively cheap—Twitter’s probably are, too. Syed won’t say how much he spent on the campaign—only that he targeted it to NYC and UK. But the point is he’s realized that Twitter’s Promoted Tweets is a retaliation of last resort. If a company won’t treat you decently, you can at least call them assholes and do so very publicly.


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