When an airline’s social media goes wrong it tends to go really wrong. Social media going off the rails ends up taking a tool that is ideal for damage control and turns it into an instrument of brand destruction … especially for a global airline with a highly conservative.
Yesterday afternoon British Airways‘ usually global Twitter account’s Tweets, one Retweet stood out. This retweet would have been a significant error if the retweet, originally from @JaeLadd, at 2:41PM EST, merely read “@British_Airways Fuck you. Fuckin cancelling my flight! #bunchofcunts”
The content of this retweet would have been enough for some people in the airline’s social media team to call a meeting to find out what went wrong … however … what puts the airline’s retweet in a whole new category of damage control is what was added after @British_Airways Fuck you. Fuckin cancelling my flight! #bunchofcunts” What followed, within the text of the retweet was “go back to your fucking country you gook”
At this time British Airways claims this retweet was due to their account being hacked, however that seems highly unlikely. Had @British_Airways been hacked, a hacker would not have inserted a single tweet targeting a user with a only 38 followers. A hacker interested in causing havoc would have targeted multiple passengers, and likely those with far more reach. This retweet error is almost certainly a lapse in judgement by someone within British Airways.
The airline acknowledged the errant retweet at 3:34PM EST, but by then the damage was done. Screen shots were captured, retweets had been forwarded … and this could have all been avoided.
Airlines, and all companies, need to ensure their passenger facing Tweeters read before clicking and that any jokes they find amusing internally never be typed out on the screen. Anyone tweeting for an airline represents the company, not themselves. It is OK to banter, have a personality and get along with regulars but in the end, the first priority of an airline’s global voice within social media is to protect the brand and advance the image of the company.
So folks … remember this, it is not in your best interest to tweet that your passenger is a gook, it won’t go over well for you.
Below is a screen shot of the offending @British_Airways tweet, as well as their apology tweet.