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Power of Social Network: Twitter

Earlier this month, the lead vocalist and guitarist of Green Day Billie Joe Armstrong was kicked off from a Southwest Airlines for having pants that hung too low. When he was kicked off the plane, he tweeted “Just got kicked off a southwest flight because my pants sagged too low!” on his BJAofficial twitter page which has almost 180,000 followers. Twitter is designed so that civilians can easily follow their favorite artists, sports stars, actors/actresses, or any famous public figures.  Also, Twitter can be summarized as express word of mouth system. Word of mouth is one of the oldest ways of marketing. Other’s opinion and experience with some product or service affect another’s purchase behavior. As soon as Billie Joe Armstrong posted the tweet, as many as 180,000 could instantly see what have happened to him and ultimately realize what could happen to themselves.

link to news article on Billie Joe Armstrong’s incident: click here.

Similar incident happened in February 2010 to Hollywood actor and director Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith was also kicked off from a Southwest airlines plane, but for being overweight.. This incident resulted in dozens of tweets from Kevin Smith, which was also picked up by Wall Street Journal, USA Today, ABC and etc. At the time of this incident, Kevin Smith had 1.6 million followers! His one tweet affected 1.6 million people in the world. Southwest, which also has a Twitter account with 1 million followers at the time, apologized and responded that the issue will be taken care of. The amazing thing is that one person has greater power in influencing more people than a huge company can, using one tweet.

link to news article on Kevin Smith’s incident: click here

In Marketing, social factor is one of the external influences that marketing managers cannot control.  Twitter and celebrities are two of the elements within the social factor. These tweets posted by Billie Joe Armstrong and Kevin Smith will affect other’s decision making. If there are two flights offered by Southwest airline and some other airline at the same price, people who have not been on Southwest flight might recall the incidents happened to Kevin Smith and Billie Joe Armstrong and pick the other airline.


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September 2011