United MileagePlus makes a move in social media

Want to earn MileagePlus point for tweeting? United Airlines is poised to make such transactions possible in the coming weeks thanks to a newly inked partnership with Chicago start-up Bckstgr.com. The program, expected to launch at the beginning of November, will see Bckstgr opening up a variety of earning opportunities based on participation in various social media actions. And it is more than just clicking a like button or posting a tweet. Watching videos, completing surveys or even posting specific phrases on linked online accounts could earn points for members.

The partnership between United and Bckstgr represents a shift in marketing strategy for United and for loyalty programs in general. Bckstgr is convinced they have a model which allows for marketing thorough more personal and social channels, providing better targeting of such efforts. And their partnership with United’s MileagePlus allows the company to very quickly tap in to a currency platform with tens of millions of members and significant infrastructure already in place. Bckstgr CEO Justin Jarvinen sums up the appeal thusly:

[F]requent flier miles were the most widely used and sought after currency in the world…. It made the most sense to partner with the premier loyalty program rather than managing the complexities inherent in bringing our own currency to market.

For United this partnership is an extension of efforts to diversify from earning or redemption focused on travel. The company has merchandise auctions and online shopping portals, among other things. The Bckstgr platform will be yet another option for program members to participate with.

Of some surprise is that the carrier is getting deeply involved on a platform where they’ve had limited success to date. Most analyses of social media engagement amongst airlines sees United scored relatively low. This isn’t likely to change that perception – it is a marketing move, not customer engagement – but it is interesting to see that the company realizes the platforms can be used in other ways. Maybe there’s hope they will also expand in areas more useful to customers, too.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Not looking forward to the usual few thousands who will now step in to game the system using scripts and bots in order to score some MileagePlus point credit. Anyone remember the topguest episode?

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