United’s Twitter presence has long puzzled me. When Continental and United merged they had two individual Twitter account with hundreds of thousands of followers. Instead of using one of those accounts post-merger (especially since you can change your Twitter username), they created an entirely new one. And as a result they have fewer than half as many followers as American, and hell, even have fewer followers than US Airways, which is saying a lot.

Now they’ve done something that’s quite possibly even more puzzling. Early Friday morning (the worst day of the week for news!)- they Tweeted the following:


They didn’t Tweet “an exciting new rewards experience is coming” or “stay tuned for an exciting enhancement to our MileagePlus program” or anything of the like. It’s valuable to build anticipation around positive news, but to Tweet something along the lines of “something is coming, stay tuned” can’t be interpreted any way other than negatively.

I’m not going to speculate about what the change is, as 300 people have already done that on FlyerTalk, but the execution on that is incredibly puzzling to me.

UA Insider did post the following on FlyerTalk:

Hi everyone,

Wanted to jump in here and let you know that we are indeed looking ahead to an announcement about new reward opportunities for MileagePlus members—over and above what you’ve seen already this week. I’ll ask that you sit tight for the next few days, but rest assured you can expect full details from me the minute we go live. And while I know you’ll give us honest feedback (as always), I do believe this is something to look forward to :-).

Aaron Goldberg
Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
United Airlines

Anyway, I think United needs someone new to handle their social media presence. If you have positive news, throw in some language that makes it sound like you’re not informing your friends you’re going to have a root canal. If it’s negative news, don’t build anticipation around it on Twitter — ain’t nobody got time for that!

  1. July 13th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Jonathan said,

    The only good thing United ever did on Twitter was when they used to offer ridiculously cheap fare sales for just a couple of hours. Snagged RT tickets from SFO to Sydney for about $550 all in

  2. July 13th, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    webrobby said,

    The tweet you highlight, to me, seems harmless. I don’t believe any company would tweet negative news in that manner or anything similar. The information about their number of followers is fascinating though.

  3. July 13th, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Rami said,

    I think United should hire you to manage their social media; you are good at building anticipation and giving out just the right amount of information that keeps us coming back to your blog.
    my 2 cents

  4. July 13th, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Landy said,

    “to Tweet something along the lines of “something is coming, stay tuned” can’t be interpreted any way other than negatively.”

    Umm…exaggerate much?

  5. July 13th, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Trevor said,

    @Jonathan — heck yeah! I loved those TWARES — got IAD-SFO for $750! Its a shame they haven’t brought those back.

    That said – UA’s twitter presence has been abismal, when compared to AA and others. I’ve tweeted to AA and have received a response and offer for help, with status info. UA just says “sorry to hear that”

  6. July 13th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Landy — You must be new to the airline industry. ;)

  7. July 13th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Jason said,

    Aaron Goldberg is the partner of another member of the flyertalk community.

  8. July 13th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Jimmy said,

    Not sure if this is old news or not, but just saw this: http://www.mileageplusupdates.com/

  9. July 13th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Jimmy — That was announced a couple of weeks ago:

  10. July 13th, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Sean said,

    There’s a negative feeling with this whole thing because of UA’s move to PQDs and the similar things DL has done lately. No reason to think this will be an actual improvement for frequent fliers.

  11. July 13th, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Tara @ Miles To The Wild said,

    I can’t believe the “chicken little” phenomenon that is happening on the FT thread! A “new rewards experience” doesn’t suggest a devaluation to me. If they change the procedure of booking awards, I think they are most likely to add a points and cash slider like Avianca Lifemiles. Or I think they will add new ways to redeem miles. I got an email about redeeming for the Emmys or something like that. Wasn’t of interest so I deleted it.

  12. July 13th, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Totally Rewarded said,

    They should get @ual4life to be their social media presence

  13. July 13th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Kris Ziel said,

    I don’t think you understand what United actually does on Twitter. I cannot count how many times a DM to United has fixed an issue I’ve had, but it is a lot, and it has saved me hours on the phone with United.
    I really don’t see how this is alludes to a devaluation. Could it be? Sure. But it could just as easily be an addition to 1K benefits that all fares instantly upgrade as long is there is a seat available in a higher cabin.

  14. July 13th, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    David said,

    I would not interpret that tweet is leading to negative news. Poor example of evidence.

  15. July 13th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    Rami said,

    If it smells like a duck and it quacks like a duck….. you get my drift

    In the last couple of years, the new UA has given us only bad news; every time they say something and no matter how they spin it, it is not to my benefit – a loyal million miler, plat UA customer who did not jump ship to AA when the smart crowd did.
    That is the reason why we have a very hard time believing this is going to be good news. I truly hope I am proven wrong.

  16. July 14th, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Nick said,

    I now suspect it will be 3 award levels like Delta. They can try spin it anyway they want I don’t see this as a change I will like.

  17. July 15th, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Kris Ziel said,

    At least, if that’s what you consider status match from Premier Gold+ to Marriott Gold to be…


  18. July 15th, 2013 at 6:18 am

    United and Marriott introduce RewardsPlus - One Mile at a Time said,

    [...] the weekend I posted about how United hinted at a new “rewards experience” coming soon, which to me (and hundreds [...]

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