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Editor's Note: Memo: Social Media Works on Many Levels

1 Apr, 2011 By: Thomas Haire Response


TO: Doubters of the capabilities of social media

FROM: Thomas Haire, Twitter user and overseer of nearly a half-dozen Twitter feeds (thanks Response)

SUBJECT: Delta Flight 4608; Sunday, March 20, 2011

As I sat stranded for 90 minutes on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport in seat 11A of a flight that had landed from Phoenix — waiting, the first officer kept announcing, for our gate to “clear” — I experienced just what it means to be part of a trending topic on Twitter.

To anyone at LAX that night who was tweeting along with me about the mess both inside the terminals and on the tarmac: thank you for helping me keep my sanity. As anyone who’s ever been on a delayed flight can tell you, there’s almost nothing worse in the world of travel than sitting idly on an airplane for an extended period of time with little to no explanation why.

More importantly, Twitter, thanks for showing me — for the second time in a span of six weeks (the first being during my viewing of Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6) — just how powerful an entertainment, information and messaging tool you can be. Before I had Twitter on my iPad (or even on my smartphone), I remember just how disconcerting such an airport delay could be.

But, that night, simply typing in the letters “LAX,” I received more than I could have hoped from the Twittersphere (and an awful lot more than anyone wearing a Delta uniform that night gave to anyone): tweets from inside the airport about power outages thanks to a rainstorm that had swept into Southern California just hours before; word of two-hour delays for numerous outgoing flights; news of local flooding around the airport; comments from travelers on other flights stuck on the same tarmac as mine; and — perhaps most importantly for my own sanity — gallows humor from so many stuck in the same tedious predicament. If I gave you a chuckle with my own sardonic wit that night, I’m glad I could help.

While not necessarily a “marketing” example of the power of social media, that evening remains clear proof to me of what a concerted marketing effort could accomplish in a complementary role to a well-considered direct response campaign. I searched for “LAX” and got far more than I bargained for. Similarly, by following my Twitter feed (which includes many thought leaders in marketing, sports and entertainment) on Super Bowl Sunday, American sports’ (and advertising’s) biggest event became that much more interesting and enjoyable.

So, please, do me a favor. Consider these stories, for a moment, while imagining what a Twitter search for “Aveda” or “Pasta Boat” or “Proactiv Solution” could do for marketers with a little investment in time and wisdom about how best to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets.

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