Brands Must Be Ready To Respond In Real-time To Social Media Situations (Like This One)

American Airlines had a little problem yesterday when a computer glitch cancelled its flights, stranding travelers. The airline was slammed with angry tweets and found themselves in the midst of a potentially damaging social media situation, while trying to deal with everything else that went along with the outage.

We know your company probably isn’t a huge airline, but let’s think about this in scale: Do you have employees ready to monitor and respond to a company major event once it hits social media?

If your company has a “what to do when the media calls for comment” section in its handbook, but nothing about social media response, take a page from how American Airlines handles such situations – and then get to work on updating that handbook. Unless you’re a fan of learning things the hard way – then do nothing and await the inevitable communications nightmare.

According to NBC News, the flight cancellations and delays happened after a “major glitch crippled the carrier’s reservation system, leading to the grounding of its fleet for several hours.”

“These computer system can get hung up waiting for data. If it never gets it, the system can get overloaded and leads to a shutdown,” said Dr. Bill Curtis, chief scientist at CAST, a software analysis firm.

On Tuesday night, 1,500 American Airlines passengers slept on cots, chairs and the floor at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after 262 flights were canceled, airport spokesperson David Magaña told NBC News. Hotel vouchers were available, water and snacks were distributed, and terminal security presence was increased.

That’s a LOT of ticked of people. And many of them ‘took to Twitter’ to sound off. 
Simply Measured tracked the buzz around the brand on Twitter and found:

  • During the peak hour (3PM EST), @AmericanAir was mentioned 2,471 times.
  • Throughout the day there were over 9,500 mentions of @AmericanAir, 6.5 times more than their normal daily average.
  • Their team sent over 1,229 replies and updates as they tried to stay on top of the issue.
  • When @AmericanAir responded, they were fairly fast to act. 44% of replies happened within 30 minutes and the average response time during the day was 43 minutes.

It looks like American Airlines has social media support covered, hmm?

Simply Measured was also able to show which tweets from the airline got the most play and the potential audience for those tweets:

As well as where most of the tweets were coming from:

THAT would be valuable info for a brand to have in the midst of a crisis, now wouldn’t it?

What’s YOUR brand’s plan?

(Image from Shutterstock)

@MaryCLong Mary C. Long is Chief Ghost at Digital Media Ghost. She writes about everything online and is published widely, with a focus on privacy concerns, specifically social sabotage.
Publish date: April 18, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT