FlySafair's twitter fail and Twitter launched "Engage" - safe space for the 1%

"I was 4050 in queue now this!" says the woman on Twitter to the FlysafeAir account which is run by a social media manager who loves gifs. People often use Twitter as a way to insta-complain to a brand, and while some brands might build their social media strategy around this, others simply hire a "part time comedian" to be the voice of the brand, to quote myself.

The exchange gets worse from there, after pointing out that the website failed them, the woman explains she wanted a flight to see her father before he goes into hospital. "Congrats! Your the first person to say this is unfair - you win a cap. DM us your address and we'll have it delivered" snarks the airline, to which the woman, obviously stunned, responds "why the sarcasm? Shove it!" Now the brand feels it is appropriate to pull out a a gif to wave in the face of a woman who just wanted a flight to see her father, who has cancer. Obviously whoever is running the social media account is tired of being confused for tech-help, but that's part of the territory when you're running a brand account.

Twitter is a strange beast to try and make a brand known on, it's for people, not brands. Blind outreach can get you in trouble, jumping into trending hashtags can be a mistake and the arbitrary verified check that can be removed at any time makes the entire platform a trollfest. Now Twitter are dividing the Royal Verified from the plebs even further by creating Twitter Engage, a twitter for the 1%. With is they have created a "safe space" Twitter for the precious celebrities who want to tweet out their selfies or ramble about their monetary woes, without ever having to see the response from thousands of fans. Engage provides real-time data and insights, so Justin Beiber and budding comedians can see how far a tweet spreads, is liked and if any other verified accounts saw it. Engage will alert you when "influencers" retweet or follow you, and you can dig deeper, accessing audience demographics and a real-time feed of what the fans are tweeting about. Meanwhile the formerly rowdy twitter feeds of regular people grow ever more silent, as interaction drops due to the fact that tweets are rarely seen. The mystery 'unfollow' bug has plagued the platform for years, now we've added "mute" to the feed, and a strange algorithm attempts to show you old stale tweets, that it deems you would find interesting. In short, Twitter is less fun for the little guy while it grows more useful to the celebrities. Twitter engage is not for you. What made the platform so attractive - the democratic rule where anyone could become a Twitter celebrity and everyones voice had an equal shot of being heard - is being whittled away. Twitter is now so full of pranksters that an AI learns to troll in mere hours once it engaged with the people on it.

So while a brand like FlySafeair might come to their senses quickly and delete the tweets they spat out in a moment of frustration due to their site having issues, the problem remains. Twitter is not a good place for "instant interaction" any more. People want to use it for comments, complaints and questions, shaming airlines for lost luggage and switching data plans on their cellphones - but this is not working when the brands want to play fun brand personalities. The big white courtesy brand telephone needs to be taken off twitter, and to a private chat instead, and the best way to direct people to such things is by not being a gif-loving silly brand on Twitter. The would be passenger, TokenBlond84 deleted her twitter.

Update it's possible that the deleted Twitter account was fishing for free stuff. The entre account history was mostly complaints to companies. When I get a little time I'll make a twitter clone that only does complaints.

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Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm after growing up in Kiruna, Raleigh and Jiddah.