Air Canada’s Twit Storm

Hell hath no fury like a Mommy Blogger scorned.   Just ask Air Canada.

All Tanner Bawn wanted to do was wheel around NY’s Central Park in the final few moments of his life with friends running beside him wearing tutus.  Air Canada‘s baggage handlers damaged (the bloggers say “killed”) Tanner’s $15 000 wheelchair leaving him stuck. Tanner has Muscular Dystrophy, his time left is limited and his cause was taken up by the Mommy Blogger movement, BlogHer, and he was to have his spin around the park coincide with the annual BlogHer conference.

I don’t want tee off on the female blogging movement, but let’s just say they are highly connected, highly passionate, and very prone to activism.  Do this group wrong and you are  asking your social media trouble to become big media headlines instantly. (Nestle, Pampers)

Air Canada made a mistake this week, and this group rallied instantly to affect change.  But it didn’t have to be like this. Avoiding a few simple fumbles and engaging your audience can help smooth the roads right from the beginning.

air canada - Twitter SearchYou don’t need to use your company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to constantly barrage your audience with sales flyers and corporate propaganda, you should be involving yourself in the conversation.

Have a look at how Starbucks uses their Twitter account@Starbucks is a large and wide international company, that still manages to have personal interactions with the audience.  The brand has been given a personality, shares stories and also intermediates and answers questions about customer service.  @SouthwestAir does the same thing. 

You don’t need to have someone sitting on TweetDeck 24/7 searching and scanning conversations to defuse, Google and Twitter can do it for you automatically.


1. Go to Twitter Search.

2. Enter the keywords you’d like monitored.  Things like your brand name and words associated with the type of business you’re involved in would work. (For Air Canada they should try “air canada, canada travel, vacation, flights in canada, canadian airlines, flight delay, @aircanada” etc)< 3. You can also set a geographic limit to your searches.  If you want them to only be local, you can choose a radius around a city, or an entire country. 

4. Grab the RSS feed.  That little orange button in the top right corner will let you grab a feed for the search query.  You can instantly plug this in to a feed catcher, like Google Reader, and updates will be fed automatically.

With a search like this, a company like Air Canada can now monitor every brand mention made on Twitter.  If it’s negative they can interject, if it’s positive they can encourage.  Even if they don’t act or interact with any of the comments, the company is no longer ignorant, they become a listener, more aware than ever about what the public truly thinks of the brand. 

Never mind spending money on mall surveys and focus groups, a few seconds setting up a Twitter search query will give you a raw, real time and unfiltered view of your operations from actual users.

While Facebook is opening up, status’ and conversations are still harder to track.  Companies like Radian 6 offer deeper social media and brand monitoring tools.

Social media is called social for a reason.  People using tools in Facebook and Twitter will collaborate, share and interact.  One tweet can be retweeted, forwarded, commented on.  If it’s a negative conversation, what quickly follows is a Twit Storm. 

It’s easy and inexpensive to monitor your brand online to avoid the mess.  In fact, it’s a lot cheaper than one single billboard in Times Square and can have much more of a positive impact.

Extended reading:
Jeremiah Owyang – Crisis Planning: Prepare Your Company For Social Media Attacks.
Tod Maffin – SWARM Communications: When Good Buzz Goes Bad.

catch the buzz .. pass it on.

**UPDATE** Saturday, August 7th, 12:20p

I received an email from John Reber, Air Canada’s Director of Media Relations.

“Thank you for providing sound perspective on this most regrettable incident, as well as some excellent social media tips.  However, unfortunately, some assumptions were based on erroneous, unsubstantiated media reports that I would like to clarify for you

Air Canada has two active Twitter accounts, @AC_Websaver and @ACTopTier. We were in fact monitoring the situation on Twitter from the beginning of this regrettable incident.”

Mr Reber alerted me the company, in fact, had been monitoring the situation, had reached out to the Bawn family and was taking steps to rectiffy the situation. Still, the storm spiralled out of control.

The confusion in this situation arises from people issuing complaints to “@aircanada” an account that has been squatted and isnt in the company’s control

Just another reason why you should properly own all extensions of your brand online.

buzz bishop future shop tech blogThis post was originally published on The Future Shop Tech Blog.



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