Let me start with a screenshot that explains the premise for this article.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.