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Qantas’s Twitterstorm

24 November, 2011
By Allison Orr

The marketing department at Qantas has found that a social media campaign can sometimes be a risky undertaking, since this is public relations space that is impossible to control.

This week,Qantas launched a competition asking Tweeters to suggest their dream in-flight experience using the hashtag #qantasluxury.  The prize was a pair of pyjamas and first class amenity kit.  The hashtag starting trending immediately, gaining in popularity across the day.  But instead of describing inflight luxury, people used the opportunity to tweet about planes being grounded or luggage being lost, or make sarcastic comments about Qantas’s ongoing industrial dispute.

In true online style, this episode did not stay confined to Twitter, but spread across the Internet, encouraging parody videos on YouTube, with footage from the German film "The Downfall", a favourite for YouTubers spoofers, being used in spoof video that also gained in popularity as the story gained traction.

This comes after reports that Qantas hired staff to form a social media unit and monitor what people are saying about Qantas on social media sites.  The plan is to monitor social media and provide updates around the clock about Qantas flights.  The need for this became clear, says Qantas spokesman Tom Woodward, after last year’s mid-air engine explosion over Singapore, when inaccurate tweets reported that the plane had crashed.

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