As a marketer, I feel like I’m supposed to love social media. Which I do, however I like it more for the relationships that I’ve built with the brands I follow (as a consumer) more so than the tweets I would create as a brand. It’s so interesting how social media has changed the way that brands interact with their customers. I can’t pretend that my day doesn’t get better when Shake Shack or Taco Bell tweets back at me. Or when I complain about something and get a response. It’s no question that it’s changing the way consumers interact with brands. However, it’s also changing the way brands interact with one another. Sports teams have formed personalities and playfully interact with one another on game days. Partnerships are illustrated in different campaigns. Brands can respond to one another about products or relevant news.
With the speed and easy access of social media, it’s easy to make a mistake. One example is when British Airways mistakenly shared a post from Virgin Atlantic without any comment in October 2016. This image also included a link to which users would be taken to the Virgin Atlantic page where they could book a flight to London. Followers of both airlines noticed and made comments such as “I think someone’s getting fired,” and “Did somebody click the ‘share post’ button by mistake?” When British Airways noticed, they edited the post to include a caption. The post now included the British Airways message “‘Finally we agree on something except for how to get there.”
The edit was fairly quick and a spokesperson told a news outlet that “We can all agree that now is a great time to visit the UK!”
The Virgin Atlantic brand also commented on the post, ‘Thanks British Airways! So kind of you to share!’ The way the brands interacted with one another was clever, demonstrated the friendly competition and lessened the potential downfall this could have led to. The Virgin Atlantic spokesperson also offered a free flight to the British Airways person that initially shared the post.
Both brands handled the mini-crisis really well. It was important to acknowledge the mistake and have both the spokespeople ready to deal with the crisis (PR) as well as marketing there to address the issue digitally. The brand personalities remained the same in the consumer-facing outlets I love British Airways (it may or may not be because I somehow got bumped to first class one time) and would have flown with them anyway – regardless of what they shared.