Delta Airlines Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media

We have seen how airlines and airports alike are using social media to reach more potential fliers and to connivence their existing ones. The interactions between industry and customer that we have seen so far have been useful information being given out for the sake of the flier. There is however a side of social media that companies need to be aware of, sometimes things should be answered in a more professional way than via social media.

Delta Airlines is a perfect example of this, Delta had begun to establish themselves online like most other airlines do, starting with a Twitter page and a Facebook page as well. In addition Delta made a separate verified Twitter page for just customer support inquires. One flier tweeted into DeltaAssist about how aggravated she was with her flight delay and subsequent cancellation of her connecting flight. DeltaAssist quickly replied offering to help rebook her new flight through Twitter’s Direct Message service. It allows Twitter users to have conversations that do not show up publicly.

The more unpleasant side of social media relationships effected Delta in February of 2014. Lindsay Jaynes whose 10-week old son is required to eat every two hours, and cannot feed from the bottle or under a cover, asked Delta about their policy on breastfeeding. Delta replied telling the flier that she must cover up so they suggested she pump before hand. Lindsay then replied along with several other Twitter users about the false information given by Delta’s tweet. You are allowed to legally in the United States and Delta has no official policy regarding breastfeeding. While Delta apologized quickly for the misinformation, the damage was already done, and Twitter exploded over the issue. After the brief exchange between Lindsay and Delta the event was over, but the lasting impressions remain. Simply doing a Google search of Delta and Twitter immediately brings up this story.

This is a good example of how far business’s using social media still have to go in terms of working out all of the kinks of using social media effectively. While Delta did nothing wrong in replying to her, they were nice, the tone was there, the rapid response was there. The thing that was missing was taking the extra minute to check their policy’s and facts. One challenge that stares business in the face is finding the balance between rapid responses and quality responses. I think that Delta learned a valuable lesson with no major consequence in this case, but they will have to learn what the correct mediums and times are to use social media.

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4 comments

  1. You highlighted some key grey areas that come with handling crisis communication/management. Although a quick reply shows that you’re listening and responding and resolving [the issue] is your priority, a quality response that the audience can get more out of is really more important. But it’s all about balance. Nice piece !

  2. This blog post is a good example of how to use and how not to use social media. The good side is great, helping out fliers and giving them the information and support they need is vital to keep up a good relationship between the two. However the bad side shows that if you send out information to fliers, the most important thing, is that you make sure its correct. It wouldn’t have taken long for them to find out the correct information but instead they hurried and made a big mistake. A rapid response should be substituted for quality information every time. They are now trying to forget about the issue and learn from it which is the only thing they can do, its good that they realized there mistakes and tried to make it right. Im sure they wont be so quick on the tweet button next time!

  3. That situation must have been uncomfortable for Delta, but at least they owned up to their mistake immediately. If they were to try and deny or delete the post only more issues would have ensued. It is interesting though how when it comes to speed of a response, quality seems to be left out. Speed does not replace quality, it just pleases the impatient customer but only if the information given is good. On the flip side, quality information can be given fast. If the Delta employee had take a few extra moments with the help of technology could have found the correct answer and answered the question only a few moments later. I would not consider this a draw back of social media, but a mistake of how an individual used the particular media.

  4. How companies present themselves on social media is crucial these days. Unfortunately for Delta, their comments were taken out of proportion and blown up on social media. They were ultimately just trying to connect with their users in a positive way and made a mistake, which happens. Unfortunately on social media, if you make a mistake, it is taken way out of context and proportion. They key concept from this post, though, is that forming a relationship with your audience is more helpful than ever. Providing an outlet for people to share their complaints and let Delta try to solve their problems and answer their questions is what is so important today. People want answers fast. Delta’s attempts were admirable, even though they may have made a mistake.

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