The Evil Face of Social Media Marketing: 3 Lessons on How to Respond to Airline Crises for Content Managers

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on how to respond to crises on social media. The first part is addressed to marketers; the second will be addressed to audiences. [push h=”16″]

Social media is the first source of information people turn to during crisis.

Such a scenario makes it necessary for both active content-creators and passive promoters to be responsible while dealing with information they share and promote. The last week has seen three tragedies in quick succession — MH17, the TransAsia crash and the latest Air Algerie disappearance. Inevitably, in each of these cases, a flurry of conversations has erupted on Twitter, the go-to platform during crises, due to its real-time nature. In each of these cases, especially during the hours after the horrific MH17 tragedy, a few clear communication trends emerged which we’d like to address.

Basic Decency Should Never Be Sacrificed

The internet truly took off after Google entered the scene about 15 years or more ago. And they began with a basic tenet — “Don’t be evil”. In these times, I think it is apt to repeat that tenet.

Social media crisis management, now that it is mainstream, carries a fair burden of responsibility. The least of these responsibilities is acting sensitively, and not resorting to opportunism. Unfortunately, many brands seem unable to resist the temptation of scoring brownie points at the cost of another brand, and in the face of tragedy. This goes against plain decency — and, some might argue, is unethical. Thankfully, social media is a great leveller, and brands that act self-servingly are just as quickly served bitter pills of rebuke by online audiences.

We outline below 3 things that brands (and content marketers) should never resort to during crises.

  • Self-Promotion: Yes, you might have a great social analytics platform, but people are more concerned and distraught at the people who have died, rather than know how quickly Malaysia Airlines responded in the latest tragedy as compared to the previous one. This makes you look both insensitive to the tragedy, as well as selfish, self-serving, at the cost of a huge human tragedy.
  • One-upmanship: Some airlines quickly put out messages saying that they hadn’t been flying over Ukrainian airspace, which was later proven completely false. Instead, smarter airlines put out statements saying that they’d immediately change their route.
  • Real-time Analysis: While the crisis is unfurling, and information is trickling in on its nature, scale and reasons, we don’t want to hear real-time analyses of what Malaysia Airlines or some other brand affected should be doing. “Now” is too late to change existing processes. Resist the temptation to show off your “knowledge”; if you’re truly an expert, reach out to the brand after it has handled the current one, and offer your services. Until then, make notes, and support the brand.


What do you think of the points raised above? Do you agree? Would you like to add more points? Write to us at or tweet us @simpliflying.

Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Former VP, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal was leading SimpliFlying's Research, Product Development, Marketing and Business Development from December 2010 to December 2017 from the headquarters in Singapore. He has spoken at airline conferences and delivered training workshops for senior aviation executives. He has also appeared on television interviews and been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying and respected industry outlets such as Airlinetrends, Tnooz, Airport World, Low Cost and Regional Airline Business Magazine and Loyalty360. In a previous role, he also conducted a workshop on social media at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore.
Shubhodeep Pal
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Getting Next Post...
website by