Social Media For the Win

I recently ran into a snag with a reservation on American Airlines. I had booked a flight and put it on hold for the free 24-hour hold but when I went to purchase the ticket, I was told that my reservation had been cancelled because another ticket had already been reserved in my name.

After venting about it to my coworker, we decided to try and get the issue resolved via twitter. Within minutes of our tweet, one of my coworker’s followers had re-tweeted it and American Airlines had responded to both of them asking that I send them a direct message. So I did. And my problem was fixed. And I was happy.

You see, what American Airlines did was use social media as a real-time customer service portal. It saved me time and they saved face on a matter that could have gotten ugly. It took all of five minutes to get the issue sorted and I thanked them via direct message and directly to their twitter account. It was a win-win-win scenario. I got my problem fixed (win). They had a happy customer (win) and they got their happy customer to tweet about it in a positive light (win again).

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Social media, when used correctly, can really drive business and help with the bottom line. This (semi)recent Forbes article explains it pretty clearly. Social media is everyone’s job at a company. Yes, you may have one person dedicated to getting content out on social media, but the strategy and content creation needs to go hand in hand with a company’s overall marketing strategy. You can’t rely on one person to do it all.

You may recall that American Airlines recently did a full overhaul of their brand. And it seems that social media was clearly a large part of the strategy. And a good part. They use social media (not just twitter) as a forum for interacting directly with consumers – sometimes they post quizzes and fun facts and sometimes (like in my case) they offer customer service stewardship. This didn’t happen haphazardly. This happened because the marketing team made sure to include that as part of their overhaul. And so far it seems to be working – not just because of what happened with me; take a look at their online presence for yourself.

What are your thoughts on social media and its role in the marketing mix? Do you have any stories to share about your experiences with a company and its social media interactions?