The Twitter mob is smarter than the PR flunkies
Twitter. It’s smarter than the average marketing company. More powerful, in its way, than the cleverest corporate PR machine. It’s loud, fierce, fast and honest. It’s the tool of the people and it’s here to stay.
Just ask Qantas. Not for the first time this year, somebody at The Occasionally Flying Kangaroo got the wrong end of the stick.
Yesterday’s #qantasluxury hashtag campaign was intended to boost goodwill for the company. They asked their customers to tweet their ideal luxury flight to generate some good publicity. It was meant to be the social media equivalent of a head massage. But it backfired.
Instead of co-operating, the justifiably aggrieved customers used it as an opportunity to fight back, tweeting thousands of angry messages at the airline for several months of delays.
Like: “#Qantasluxury is a thing of the past, such a shame it could not last. Regrettably the airline’s choice was to blow millions on Alan Joyce.”
And: “#qantasluxury is seeing your planes on Getaway not Four Corners”.
That’s customers 1, Qantas 0.
It’s clear to everyone that Qantas didn’t need another kick in the pants. So the four social media experts hired by the company last week to monitor public opinion have a lot to answer for. At the very least they had a responsibility to understand Twitter.
Twitter might be a handy tool for advertising agencies and marketing types but its real power lies with the mob. It’s a tool of the people. We use it promote ourselves, our work and our passions. We follow people we like, so we can read what they have to say about everything from what they ate for breakfast, to who they think should run for president.
On Twitter we are free to say and think whatever we like. We can be honest. Our thoughts are not controlled, so we’re free to say what we think, when we think it.
That’s also what makes it so powerful.
Remember the 2009 protests against the way the Iran election was conducted? So many people used the social media platform for political engagement that it was renamed the “Twitter election”. After thirty years of personal and political repression, Iranians had access to a free social platform to air their “real” views. Suddenly, they could say what they think and the whole Twitter world was watching.
So just what did Qantas think they were going to achieve with that hashtag? In an article for Mumbrella yesterday, Alicia Kennedy of online monitoring services, said the catastrophe could have been avoided if the company had checked their “online temperature”.
Just three days after the Qantas grounding, the company received approximately 37, 000 negative social media mentions. That’s a belting in anyone’s language.
It should have also been something of a large hint as to the best course of action for crisis control. Like, steering clear of social media campaigns until the dust has settled. Or at the very least, offering their several thousand bruised customers more than a pair of posh pyjamas as recompense.
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