Circos Brand Karma

Official Blog of Circos

Revisiting Twitter, Part 1: Distribution at the speed of RT

with 4 comments

If you’re in the travel industry, or are a traveler, you can not ignore Twitter.

On the surface, Twitter may not be impressive.  You tweet (or broadcast, for the non-Twitteratis) what you want in 140 characters or less.  People who follow you receive your tweet instantly.  You can follow people whose tweets you like.  People who like your tweets can follow you.  You can do a keyword search on all the tweets.  If so inclined, you can re-tweet (RT) someone else’s tweet that you found to be particularly useful (it’s the Twitter version of email forward).  You can also embed a tag with a # in front of the tag name to denote important topics that you think (or hope) other people will follow.  For example #iranelections (vs. a keyword search on “iran elections“) or #followfriday, whose trend was analyzed by Mashable.

Twitter also has a direct message capability which is just like private messaging, but it’s really not the reason you use the service.  When I first began using Twitter, I got the feeling that the service was making public my tweets (which were like SMS or Facebook status).  But it turns out what ingenious Twitter users can do with 140 characters has made Twitter really an incredibly useful tool.

With an URL shortening service like, which is very popular among Twitteratis, 140 characters is more than enough to express one’s brief opinion about a web page (very often, blogs).  There’s a further element of mystery added the the tweet because a typical shortened URL does not contain the web site name per se, it’s more like or, so the click-through rests solely on the credibility of the tweeter and the copy they used to describe the link.  Yes I used the word “copy” because I believe the tweeter is trying to recommend or sell the link to compel a click-through.  Combined that with the ability to RT, Twitter can have a profound impact quickly and virally.

Recently, an esteemed hotel chain posted agency-made videos that were meant to be viral to promote itself.  The videos were viral, but in an unintentionally negative way.  Within hours both bloggers and tweeters denounced them and the brand.  The combined forces, bloggers tweeting and tweeters retweeting with escalating commentaries quickly spread the bad idea, the impact so great that the chain pulled the videos down within 24 hours and issued an apology.

Also celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, was assaulted recently in Toronto.  When police did not respond in a timely manner, Hilton tweeted an SOS to his over 1M followers, a good number of whom inundated the police department with calls.  When the police finally arrived Hilton had to tweet out another request asking his followers to stop calling on his behalf.

Those response times are considered to be slow.  Both the NY Times and MSNBC recently published articles about travelers receiving attention via Twitter.  In the case of the NY Times, here’s an excerpt:

Take Tony Wagner, 34, a new-media director for an academic group in Washington. When he found out he wasn’t seated next to his wife and 2-year-old daughter on a JetBlue flight to San Francisco over the Memorial Day weekend, he first called up customer service. But the agent told him to take it up at the gate. So Mr. Wagner indirectly sent JetBlue a message, by posting a plea for help on his Twitter account: “@jetblue Advice to get both parents and 2 yr old seated next to each other on flight later today? Right now only one parent. Full flight.”

Exactly 19 minutes later, JetBlue tweeted back, suggesting they correspond privately, using Twitter’s “direct message” feature: “@tonywagner Please follow us so we may DM!” After a brief exchange, JetBlue flagged his tickets as a priority concern.

And from Chris Elliott of MSNBC Travel:

“Dear Virgin Air,” she wrote. “My children have been on the tarmac for one hour with 90 more minutes to wait. I am at JFK gate b25. Pls RT.” That last request — please “RT” — is shorthand for Gottlieb’s nearly 10,000 followers to “retweet” her message, or rebroadcast it to their followers. And retweet they did. Within minutes, Virgin had phoned Gottlieb to reassure her that her kids would be fine.

“They contacted the gate agent manager and explained to us the entire weather situation,” she says. “Within 20 minutes of that conversation, the plane took off.”

Chris is a tweeter I follow.  He tweeted his article and to see RT in action, you can see how many tweeters have since retweeted his article to tell other travelers how they can use Twitter to improve their travel experience.

So if travelers are using Twitter and also being coached on how to use it (in Chris’ article he recommends 6 ways in which travelers can use social media services like Twitter to improve their travel experience), what are you doing to meet your customers on Twitter?


Written by Morris

July 7, 2009 at 4:48 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Great posts over here. A few requests:
    1. can you provide full feed via RSS? It is truncated.
    2. can we get together for lunch? email me Morris and let me know when you are in the bay Area!

    Elliott Ng

    July 7, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    • Hi Elliott, think I just fixed the RSS issue. If it’s still truncated let me know. I’ll send you email separately re: getting together!


      July 8, 2009 at 2:30 am

  2. […] Older » […]

  3. great post thanks a ton

    Lindsay Quinones

    March 17, 2010 at 1:43 am

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