What your Audience on Social Media Expects and What You Should Be Doing to Retain their Attention
Let me start with a screenshot that explains the premise for this article.

People wish to interact with people, not automated voice response systems

Look, I get all the excuses. I really do. 

The airline doesn’t have enough resources. The Marketing department already has enough to do. Corporate Communications can’t spare anyone. It’s impossible to monitor everything on Facebook and Twitter. It’s ridiculous to think that every query can be answered. In fact, most airlines reply to only 23% of their incoming tweets (see our research report). The list is endless, like all lists of excuses. 

At face-value, these seem like reasonable, even understandable reasons. 

But then you come to the real clincher: “We are not comfortable / we do not have a policy (or a similar variation) to engage with customers directly. We have contact-centers for that which follow protocol.” 

This is, if you think about it, rather silly. 

Why are you here?

Here’s the thing. You might have even heard of this aphorism: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”. Well, guess what: you can’t be on social media and not engage your audience. You think the job’s done when you (or your agency) create that Facebook page with a fancy cover photo or even a Twitter profile to put up a show of being social-savvy. It’s not. 

Once you take the leap, your audience – customers and potential customers – come to you. They come to you thinking you know the basics already. That you know social media is designed for conversations, not mindless advertisements and “closed” Facebook walls/timelines. 

But you do the opposite. You’re still following the traditional advertising ethos of the Stone Age. You still think your brand is owned by you. That the customer should have no say in your brand and that you can feed him advertisements day after day in the hope that he/she generously channels some of his/her hard-earned money towards you. 

Guess what? Times have changed. 

Play according to the rules. Or lose.

You might think I’m complaining too much so let me set out some basic rules of being on social media. 

  • If you’re on social media and have a Facebook or a Twitter page, your audience already expects you to engage with them. If you’re not prepared for a two-way conversation, don’t come here. You won’t be welcome. 
  • Creating a Facebook page and stocking it with a million fans, but closing the wall to fan posts is like releasing a movie in a theater and selling tickets to it but not letting people in for the show. Guess what your audience feels like? 
  • You cannot control social media. Do not waste your time trying to. Most audiences appreciate a brand that is attentive to its audiences on social media. Blocking negative sentiment doesn’t create positive sentiment for you. A genuine effort to engage your audience will take you places. 
  • We know you cannot reply to everyone and everything. We don’t expect you to. But the least you can do is listen. Don’t have a “dead” Facebook page that is full of only push marketing materials. Make us feel that there are humans running the brand. 
  • Don’t ignore the flares that could become conflagrations. Information – especially of the negative sort – spreads very quickly on social media. Be nimble, be transparent, be aware. 
  • Last and most obvious, if you care only about fan numbers and not your fans, you will end up with a pile of wasted time and resources. Social media – even the fun and games part of it – can be leveraged to drive very specific goals: revenue, loyalty, customer service, crisis management and more. Build a strategy around them. 
You might think this is all an inexact science and nobody really knows what really works, but the fact is that some basic rules apply here as well. For example, if you’re being less than prompt in responding to a really high-tier member of your loyalty program – someone who’s potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – on your Facebook page, you really need to rethink not just your Facebook (and social media) strategy but Marketing and Customer Service as well. 

 

Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Vice President, Products & Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal is the Vice President of Products and Operations at SimpliFlying and has been leading Product Development, Marketing and Business Development since December 2010 from the headquarters in Singapore. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying as well as revered industry outlets such as Tnooz, Airlinetrends and Loyalty360. He has considerable experience working in the social media sphere, having also conducted a workshop at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. He has written an introductory e-book for social media newbies and has previously interned at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) as well. His wide range of interests include startups, programming, economics, geopolitics, film-direction/criticism and literature. His first collection of poems, Interruptions was released in 2009. He can be reached at shubhodeep@simpliflying.com.
Shubhodeep Pal
Shubhodeep Pal
  • http://twitter.com/rascottdotcom Robert Scott

    Hello tomorrow!

    “Creating a Facebook page and stocking it with a million fans, but closing the wall to fan posts is like releasing a movie in a theater and selling tickets to it but not letting people in for the show. Guess what your audience feels like?”

    Contrast Simpliflying on social media with the EK press release on reaching 1million FB fans: http://www.emirates.com/ae/english/about/news/news_detail.aspx?article=1045674&offset=0

  • Jean Luc

    “Creating a Facebook page and stocking it with a million fans, but closing the wall to fan posts is like releasing a movie in a theater and selling tickets to it but not letting people in for the show. Guess what your audience feels like?”

    I am really struggling with this analogy. What are you trying to say? There is absolutely nothing to compare between a Facebook news feed and going to a movie theater. I thought simpliflying had much better credentials. Above article lacks expertise and credibility.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shubhodeep.pal Shubhodeep Pal

      Let me break it down for you. If you buy a ticket, you expect to watch a movie. If you are a social media follower, you expect to engage with a brand, not receive one-way adverts. The analogy is about expectations, not transactions.

      It would have been better if you had, instead of jumping to conclusions about the non-viability of the analogy and our lack of credibility, supported your assertions about the same with your own credentials and an ounce of proof.

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