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Qantas: The ‘Unliking’ of an Australian Icon

Breaking News: Qantas Fleet Grounded

Breaking News: Qantas Fleet Grounded

The last 48 hours in Australia has seen a social media storm unlike anything this country has seen before. It may just be the ‘Unliking of Qantas’.

This article is not an opinion piece on the Qantas grounding or industrial action, nor on how the company, Alan Joyce (CEO) or unions have handled the situation. It came about as I happened to be sitting at home on Saturday night when the news broke. Being a social media geek, I spent the next 8 hours glued to the computer screen watching Twitter Feeds and Facebook posts scroll past me faster than horses at the Melbourne Cup!

This article aims to look at how Qantas handled the social media in the first 36 hours and shares some lessons that we might all learn from.

First…..watch this video. It shows the screen grabs, videos and posts to give a snap shot of how it unfolded. It also contains the key lessons!

If you can tell me where the background music is from – you’ll get a free hard copy of our social media book
Social Media aLIVE!: 33 Hot Social Media Tips“.

The key takeaways so far…… There will be more as this unfolds in the coming days and weeks, but there is much to learn already!

1. Resources on Standby: If you know news is going to break or you have controversial news in the public domain – ensure that you have staff on standby or available to deal with the public comments, questions and concerns.

2. Provide information: one of the biggest complaints from consumers over the past 2 days was that there was just no information coming through. If your company does something that is unpopular or a controversy breaks out around your brand, keep consumers informed. It may seem like small pieces of information to you who is in the middle of it, but to someone who’s life is being inconvenienced, every little bit of information helps.

3. Respond to comments: There is no need to respond to abusive comments unless you have something useful to say to the person. However, often in these situations, where there are large volumes of posts, those with legitimate questions or concerns can go unanswered or ignored. This only serves to upset people further and what started out as a simple question, may degenerate into frustration and abuse. Qantas only started responding to people at 10am this morning (Monday 31st October). In that time hundreds of thousands of comments had gone unanswered. It wouldn’t have been possible to respond to them all, however the general sentiment would have been less vitriolic if it appeared that someone was responding to the outcry….or outrage!

4. Don’t delete comments:there are very few scenarios where I think it is a good idea to delete comments.

If 'Everyone (most recent) isn't selected you will only see Qantas posts

If 'Everyone (Most recent) isn't selected you will only see Qantas posts

One consistent theme on Facebook was that people were posting the same post over and over again as they believed that their comments were being deleted. It could be that their settings were such that they were only viewing the comments by Qantas and had they clicked on ‘Everyone (Most recent) they would have seen that their post was there numerous times. I can’t say either way whether Qantas was deleting posts as the volume of posts was so high. I have met someone from Qantas in social media and would be very surprised if they took that approach. But I could be wrong!

Why not to delete? If you delete a persons post, they are very likely to find another platform or avenue to vent their frustration. In some cases this could be far worse than it happening on a platform where you hare able to engage in the dialogue and potentially answer their concern or deal with their agitation. I’m not sure this would have been possible with Qantas given the sheer volume, however saying nothing or deleting posts will only upset people further.

5. Set Profanity settings on high: having consumers swearing on your page can be highly insulting to other visitors and can reflect poorly on your brand, even if you didn’t post it. Facebook has a setting in the Edit Page section where you can set the profanity level to high and also ban certain words. Even I was shocked at some of the abusive language being used on the Qantas Facebook page and this could have been avoided.

Have you had any other social media learnings? It’s a shame so many people had to suffer and such a wonderful Australian brand had to take such a drastic hit, to show some of these simple social media strategies and techniques.

Would love your thoughts below!

 

13 Comments

  • Will Qantas now take the Social Business Leap? | iGo2Group 03 Nov 2011

    […] Asher Moses at Stuff.nz quickly wrote a piece “Qantas rapped for bad social media service” covering some communications challenges, and at Social Mediology Kate vanderVoort wrote a comprehensive assessment of the first 36 hours and how things could have been done better – Qantas: The ‘Unliking’ of an Australian Icon. […]

  • Up to the Minute: Changes to Google Ranking Algorithm 04 Nov 2011

    […] your readers, subscribers and customers. This week we have blogged about the Melbourne Cup and the Qantas Social Media Crisis, both of which have seen increased traffic to our website. We didn’t do it for the sake of it […]

  • Qantas the Sequel: The re re re retweet 22 Nov 2011

    […] grounding of the Qantas fleet on the 29th October was a PR disaster for Qantas of the grandest scale! Today, Qantas tried to beat their record negative sentiment, and succeeded! […]