Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Five things to consider before you let #qantasluxury turn you off Twitter

One of the sad things that will emerge from the #qantasluxury Twitterstorm is that social media is likely to be accused of further damaging the Qantas brand.

For those who missed the commotion, Qantas launched a competition via its Twitter feed Tuesday morning offering a free first class pamper package – including Qantas pyjamas – to the Tweep who could come up with the most creative description of their dream luxury flight experience. Answers needed to include the hashtag #qantasLuxury.

Within minutes, the hashtag was hijacked by those venting their anger at Qantas for everything from the grounding of planes three weeks earlier to every frustration they had ever experienced while flying.

If you are not on Twitter yourself, just Google #qantasluxury for a peek at what has been going on.

Some commentators were quick to jump on the “failure” of Qantas’ social media strategy.

It would be a shame if this incident were to scare off jumpy executives already spooked about using social media creatively in their own companies. Facebook, Twitter and the multitude of other social media applications available today are a powerful way for them to engage directly with customers and the broader community.

If the #qantasluxury debate is making you think twice about your own social media strategy, first consider five questions:
  1. Is there an advantage to bringing a debate about your brand out into the open where you can listen, respond and engage rather than allow the anger to fester in backyards and around office water coolers?
  2. If the “timing was bad”, as some commentators would have us believe, how long after a crisis should you wait until you creatively engage with your community again?
  3. Can the choice of words you use change the outcome? Would a word other than “luxury” have worked better?
  4. What’s really going on here? Customer backlash is not created by social media. Twitter simply provided the platform for customers to vent their spleen publicly. The fact that they are participating in the debate at all is a signal of something much deeper going on.
  5. Is this really damaging the brand? The jury is still out on this one. It’s easy to be spooked in the first few hours of the furore but as time goes on we’re likely to see more measured debate about how this social media exercise is really going to impact on Qantas’ reputation.

 Twittercue: 5 things to consider before you let #qantasluxury turn you off Twitter.