Note that I wrote a Part 2 to this post here.
We’ve heard and read that social media has become absolutely essential for any business that wants to connect to customers and fans. But how does this translate to the loyalty points game? In my opinion, it’s way more important than most people in the game realize.
You see, while Facebook may not be the most useful social media tool for us, Twitter is a nearly perfect forum for what travel and point addicts want: quick information and pictures, with reviews.
You see, the big bloggers are really good at what they do. They write very engaging articles and take fantastic pictures. They review flights and hotels that many of us would have an interest in seeing, and they’re almost constantly traveling. But there’s so much more than what they can put in to a short blog post!
Enter Twitter. Many of the bloggers use Twitter pretty regularly while traveling. Brian, aka The Points Guy, and Ben from One Mile at a Time are two of the best at this. When they’re traveling, they’re constantly taking pictures and providing instant reviews. Whether their check-in is taking too long, their Business Class seat is broken, or they found Vanilla Reloads at a new store, they provide instant reviews.
Much of this makes it to a blog post later on, but some of it doesn’t (particularly pictures). And that brings me to my next point: there are a lot of extremely knowledgeable people that don’t blog about their tricks! People like @TheMrPickles, @FlyerTalkerinA2, @jamucsb, and @HouseofV are expert travelers and point/mile earners, and they have a lot of useful information to share.
And as Mr Pickles pointed out to me at FTU, when these expert travelers (bloggers or not) do happen to have problems of some kind, you can often times see their thought process as they figure out a solution. They ask questions, and others respond with suggestions or solutions. For example, The Points Guy recently had a problem at the airport where his award flight couldn’t get ticketed. His Twitter account gave us a play-by-play as he tried to figure out what to do and others recommended a whole spectrum of solutions, including purchasing a full-fare ticket with cash and then suing United in small claims court (which one person had successfully done).
Then there’s the more “traditional” value of Twitter: word can spread very quickly. If there’s a mistake fare, people will be talking about it on Twitter well before it hits anyone’s blog (and on Twitter you can see people experimenting on the best way to exploit the deal). If there’s a fare war between airlines, it’ll be on Twitter first and may not even make it to a blog. The same is true, although to a lesser extent, with mileage runs. Any deal where speed/timing is of the essence will almost certainly be on Twitter before on a blog.
Unfortunately there are many other topics that people talk about on Twitter, including quite a few useless comments. I realize that this is why many people avoid Twitter and it’s a legitimate excuse that has no real solution. The recent Presidential election, for example, made everyone a political pundit, and of course the race nothing to do with travel. It’s simply part of the social media deal.
The moral of the story is that if you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out on a lot of interesting information. Oh, and there are TONS of things you can win (free points, GoGo internet passes, etc.) just by tweeting certain words when people have contests. To me, the positives outweigh the negatives.