Airlines are usually the ones at the receiving end of complaints, rants and trolls online.
But Delta seems to have the upper hand in its ongoing Twitter war with political commentator Ann Coulter.
According to data crunched by social listening firm Brandwatch, Coulter’s online sentiment is 55.9% negative, whereas Delta’s sentiment is 52.3% positive.
The analysis is based on over 337,000 mentions of Coulter and over 410,000 mentions of Delta across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook over the past seven days.
This weekend, Coulter embarked on a multiday Twitter tirade, accusing Delta of giving away her seat on a flight on Saturday. According to Coulter, Delta gave away an extended-legroom economy-class seat, for which she paid $30, to another passenger.
The dispute quickly escalated and subsequently went viral on Twitter, after Delta responded on Sunday evening.
Delta criticized her for posting “slanderous comments and photos in social media” and Coulter responded by calling the airline “fascists.”
According to Brandwatch, activity around the Delta brand increased by nearly 1,400%, while activity around Coulter rose by nearly 2,700% on social media between July 14 and 16.
Coulter has 1.6 million Twitter followers, while Delta has 1.3 million. The chart below shows how closely the two conversations are entwined. (It represents only 10% of the conversation)
In an age where airlines are frequently lambasted online for all things customer service-related and beyond, Coulter’s polarizing persona has actually turned the tide in Delta’s favor. Coulter didn’t help either, not just attacking Delta but also the other passenger that was given her seat. Coulter called her “dachshund-legged” and implied she’s an immigrant when she tweeted, “Immigrants take American jobs (& seats on @Delta).”
Critics are not only embracing the airline’s response, but according to Brandwatch, Delta’s sentiment is actually more positive than the numbers indicate. This is because a lot of the conversations around the topic are overrun with sarcasm (which the algorithm cannot read) and are negative reactions to Coulter that mention Delta in the same breath.
Delta’s sentiment was as much as 80.3% positive on July 13, but its sentiment has taken a hit since Coulter’s mentions have started to attach themselves around its conversation. Even though these mentions aren’t directly guided towards Delta, its sentiment is going down as the algorithm can’t determine if people are discussing Coulter or the airline.
“Delta is somewhat of the victim in this,” said Kellan Terry, senior data analyst at Brandwatch.
Coulter’s conversation, on the other hand, is quite negative regardless of the incident, because she is a polarizing regardless.
Among those that rallied behind Delta included actor Matt Doyle, who said “I was impressed with your service recently. Most pleasant flights I’ve had in while. Oh and @anncoulter is evil, but what else is new,” in a tweet.
I was impressed with your service recently. Most pleasant flights I’ve had in while. Oh and @anncoulter is evil, but what else is new.
— Matt Doyle (@MattfDoyle) July 16, 2017
On the other end of the spectrum were supporters of Coulter who vowed to boycott Delta because of the incident.
“You screw a customer then scold her for not being polite about it? Never flying Delta again. Plenty of other airlines to choose from,” tweeted one user.
You screw a customer then scold her for not being polite about it?
Never flying Delta again. Plenty of other airlines to choose from.
— Alex 🇺🇸 (@SoCal4Trump) July 16, 2017