Social Media Marketing, Customer Service And Brand Reputation: A Case Study Of British Airways

Platterofgold Editor By Platterofgold Editor 8 Min Read

It’s an undeniable fact that social media marketing is one of the most popular internet marketing strategies being used by top brands as well as small businesses.

But the question is how well is your business using social media? Has your business made provision for customer support or customer service through social media?

The power of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in reaching global audience is phenomenon.

No wonder top brands are now active on the platforms. They are making use of the platforms for business marketing and also for customer service and support.

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Impacts of social media marketing

Top brands are now spending a large chunk of their budget on social media marketing as it is potentially one of the most effective and efficient advertising strategies.

But it’s not just about using social media to market your business. How about when the table turns against your business?

Do you know how quickly the message spread on social media? How about when your business reputation is attacked on social media?

SEE ALSO: How To Easily Use Your Business Social Interactions For Marketing

What every business on social media should understand is that marketing tools on these platforms are not only available to top brands. Other users can also access some of these great social media marketing tools.


This is where businesses on social media need to be careful. They have to instantly adapt to the changing nature of online marketing, brand loyalty, and customer service.

Social media and British Airways

Just like every other top brand, British Airways also uses social media platforms such as Twitter to reach out to a global audience.

SEE ALSO: How To Make Social Media Marketing Work For Your Business

Just last month, British Airways warmed our hearts with their Youtube campaign, Visit Mum, which went viral. The campaign was a success for British Airways and it attracted a huge response from users on social media (see below).

But one-way marketing can only go so far. Social media has now come back to bite them. It’s not uncommon for airlines to lose bags. But it’s unheard of, for an angry passenger, to buy a promoted tweet to vent his/her frustrations when baggage is lost. And that just happened!

SEE ALSO: Best Ways To Make Your Business Social Media Marketing Efforts Work

A furious British Airways passenger used promoted tweet to complain to the world about ‘lost luggage. Twitter user Hasan Syed bought a promoted tweet through the site’s self-service ad platform and tweeted a series of messages criticizing the loss of the luggage and the delayed response.

Even though BA responded and apologized for the delayed response, the damage has already been done. Hasan Syed took his grievance against BA to a whole new level and probably set a precedence for other disgruntled customers to take on social media to complain about certain service providers.

Managing online reputation

From booking your hotel online to shopping on e-commerce websites like eBay and Amazon, the advent of the Internet has made things easier for all of us.

Businesses are also massively enjoying the benefits of having an online presence. The Internet has also helped improve the way businesses interact with their customers.

This is why it’s important for brands to properly manage their online reputation. Below are some ways through which businesses can positively and effectively manage their online reputation.


#1]. Urgently respond complaints

It’s imperative for businesses to understand the fact that information travels so fast like a flash of lightning on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

For this reason alone, businesses have to set time aside to manage their presence online. British Airways responded to Mr. Hasan about 7 hours after the tweet was sent out, exactly at 9 am London time.

That’s not good enough considering the size of the company. Every business, especially big brands, should have a standard operating procedure (SOP) for such incidences.

#2]. Convert angry customers to advocates

Angry customers such as Hasan Syed in the case study of British Airways can also be converted to brand advocates if the issue is properly managed by the company.

SEE ALSO: How To Effectively Use Social Media For Your Business Marketing

Businesses should realize that an angry customer is not just angry for fun’s sake, there must be something about the company that makes him/her angry. Therefore, an angry and upset customer whose problem was solved is more than likely to become a brand advocate.

#3]. Create a digital customer service

It’s very important for the customer service department to work with the social media team to create a digital customer service and crisis communications plan.

Customers venting their frustrations online is a common occurrence. So why not just have a process for handling such instances?

Mr. Hasan’S tweet bombarded British Airways with bad PR – with the airline eventually responding and promising to ‘look into the claim.

Therefore, businesses should realize that we are in the digital age and that how the business is seen in the public eye dealing with issues online can either enhance or break their reputation.

Conclusion on social media

It’s time for businesses to take how they deal with issues on social media really seriously as the negative, as well as the positive implications, are tremendous.

Almost everyone has access to social media and coupled with the fact that news travels really fast, there is a need for businesses to adapt and equip their customer service well against such incidences as Mr. Hasan’s and British Airways.


The fact is that for every thousand happy customers, there is always one or even more who isn’t. So, dealing with customers’ complaints, especially about social media platforms like Twitter in the nick of time will further strengthen the company’s relationship with their customers.

If a man whose father’s bag British Airways lost can spend money to buy a promoted tweet against British Airways on social media and target New York City and UK markets, then there are more unhappy customers out there that can also do the same.


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  • Social media aside, British Airways are just terrible when it comes to customer service in my opinion. I have had similar experience with them and it took me sometimes before I was able to get my luggage back.

    I think Hasan Syed has done the right thing. All these top brands sometimes think they are too powerful to be questioned.

  • Serves them right! Most of these so-called big airlines always think they can get away with such. I had similar problem with KLM when my luggage got damaged. I complained about it and I was compensated.

    Now with social media, customers have access to global audience and any unsatisfactory service can be easily exposed online. It’s time all these big brands take customer service serious.

  • Social media is one of if not the most powerful tool in influencing and communicating nowadays. This is an amazing read. Very timely and insightful.

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