Lyfts app has surged in the App Store thanks to the Delete Uber campaign which took place via social media over the weekend. People were angry that Uber appearedto be taking advantage of a taxi strike at JFK in order to promote its car-hailingservice. The companyhad tweeted that surge pricing at JFK had been switched off, shortly after the NY Taxi Workers Alliance called for a stop on pickups at the airportin response to what they said was the inhumane, unconstitutional ban of Muslim refugees and travelers.
The Taxi Workers Alliance had askedall drivers, Uber included, to not pick up at JFK on Saturday, January 28th from 6 PM to 7 PM as a means of protesting Trumps immigration and refugeeban.
We cannot be silent. We go to work to welcome people to a land that once welcomed us, the taxi union had written on Twitter.
Lyft fliesup the Top Charts
Ubers response, which informed customers it had switched off surge pricing at JFK, was seen as an attempt to undercut the strike while also taking advantage of the situation to promote its own app. People said it was turning Uber drivers into scabs.
The company denied this was the case, saying that the tweet was only meant to tell customers they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal rates, despite the protests.
Often, Uber hasbeen accused of jacking up its rates when users needed its help the most, like during snowstorms or after hurricanes, and other times where theres high demand and not many options, like New Years Eve. In other words, thetweet was meant to be itsway of saying that it wouldnt take advantage of thesituation at JFK in a similar way.
But Ubers apology came too late for many customers, who werent just angry about the tweet, but also the fact that it continued operating during the taxi strike, despite being asked to join in.
A social media campaign on Twitter, promotedvia the #DeleteUber hashtag, saw users calling out Uber for its actions, as well as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for serving as an economic advisor to President Trump . Customersalso posted screenshots of the message that appears when you delete an app from your phone, asking you to confirm the action.
A number of Hollywood celebrities helped to spread the #DeleteUber campaign on Twitter, which helped the movementgain traction. The hashtag became the number one trend in the U.S. by Saturday night.
Many who tweetedsaid they were throwing their support towards Lyft, as a result. Lyft had just come out against the travel ban by pledging to donate $1 million to the ACLU.
Kalanick quickly responded to the situation with strong words against the Trump administrations travel ban, which he called wrong and unjust. The company also said it would create a $3 million defense fund to help cover legal, immigration and translation costs for drivers affected by the ban.
But the gesture of goodwill may have arrived too late for those who had already made up their minds to abandon Uber. As a result, Lyft has soared in the App Stores charts.
Chart rankings are determined by a combination of downloads and velocity, indicating that Lyfts climb was a direct result of this social media campaign.
Lyft had started Saturday with a #39 ranking in the Free apps charts for iPhone. By the end of the weekend, however, it had shot up to #7.
And, as of the time of writing, Lyft has climbed one more spot higher, and now ranks at the #6 free app on the iPhone App Store, ahead of YouTube, Messenger, Facebook, Google Maps, Netflix, Spotify, Pinterest, Amazon, Twitter, Pandora, and yes, Uber (now, #13).
This bump is a notable achievement for Lyft, which tends to rank in the top 50 or lower at times, in the Free apps category.
Its unclear how long Lyft will hold this top spot, but the campaigns momentum has not yet dieddown. Actress Susan Sarandon this morning joined in, for example.
The irony, of course, is that Uber has now committed $3 million to its driver defense fund, while Lyft pledged a lesser amount ($1 million) to the ACLU, which will be spread out over four years. But this sort of social media movement isnt necessarily about the bottom line of dollars and cents, its about how a company is perceived.
For Uber, thesingle,misguided tweet along withKalanicks role within the Trump organization may continue to impact its U.S. business in the weeks ahead. The lesson for other companies is clear: no business is going tobe able to ride out the Trump years without being held accountable for their actions or inaction.
Update, 5:15 PM ET: Lyft is now number 4 on the App Store. According to Sensor Tower, Lyfts U.S. downloads for this weekend grew 78% week-over-week on iOS. Downloads for Jan. 21-22 were approximately 55,000 and for Jan. 28-29 it shows a preliminary estimate of 98,000. Sunday downloads grew 180% from 25,000 on Jan. 22 to a preliminary estimate of 70,000 on Jan. 29.