Around the clock social media monitoring: excessive or necessary?

Disgruntled British Airlines customer's Tweets.

recent and enlightening Twitter exchange between British Airways and a disgruntled customer begs the question: To check or not to check?

British Airways passenger Hasan Syed took his customer service issues to a whole new level this week by purchasing promoted Tweets totaling nearly $1,000 to express his frustrations over lost luggage during the course of his father’s business trip. The series of Tweets garnered thousands of impressions – all under the un-watchful eyes of the British Airways Twitter handler(s).

Several hours and several Tweets later, British Airways replied with the following:

Twitter exchange between British Airlines and a disgruntled customer.

Syed makes a good point.

Social media has become a primary means of communication between organizations and their publics. And with such a wide reach, can companies reasonably run the risk of bad press circulating the Twitter-sphere under their un-watchful eyes?

Managing relationships for an organization is a full-time job that far exceeds the boundaries of a regular nine-to-five work day. Particularly for an international organization active around the clock and through several time zones, such a crisis can pop up at any time. Limiting your social media monitoring and interactions to a single time zone and further limiting it to standard working hours is just bad practice.

It’s simple: Social media activity is not bound by a set timeframe. It is a 24-hour conversation system. And hell hath no fury like a social media user scorned.

Your social media profile therefore requires constant monitoring and consistent alerts for new activity from followers. It requires timely replies when appropriate. It requires teamwork. Designating social media responsibilities to a single person assumes that this person is an immortal being unconstrained by mere human needs. For international organizations like airlines, limiting social media practices to a single time zone assumes that your social media team or designate transcends these time zones.

Look, in some cases 24 hours of monitoring is just an unreasonable expectation.

But there needs to be a system in place that, to a certain extent, fills the gap between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Whether that involves a rotation system among your PR team, setting up a Twitter feed for each of your international offices or very loud alerts blowing up your phone when you’re being tweeted at, something’s got to give. Limiting yourself to a nine-to-five schedule makes the foolish assumption that you will only screw up between these hours.

Either way this was a win for Syed, whose story has caught on (video via CNN) in the media. As for British Airways, it’s probably a lessons learned. Reputation management is a ’round the clock job, and limiting your social media monitoring to working hours is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

What do you think?

Follow PR+Ruse on Twitter @ruse_pr

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One comment

  1. […] offence: The company gets caught sleeping on the job when a disgrustled customer buys promoted Tweets to publicize his […]

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