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For Guys

‘Social media in business is a double-edged sword’: Scoot CEO Campbell Wilson

By: Katie Roberts

Campbell Wilson talks about Scoot’s social media campaign, which effectively launched the airline in November 2011. Now with over 750,000 Facebook fans and numerous Twitter followers, he explains why social media is a double-edged sword for business. Check out Wilson’s impressive business profile here.

Put your hand up if you love Twitter 

‘Scoot was born in the social media generation and it was, if you like, Scoot’s founding tool. We had nothing to sell while setting the airline up. We had no regulatory approvals to fly, no booking systems in place, but we had a brand. There was no point doing traditional media, because with only a brand to sell, it would have been a lot of money for no reward.

So we focused on social media, as our brand is largely youth and leisure focused. We started building a fan base and a brand perception without spending much money. This meant that when we had something to sell we had a large database of followers to immediately sell to.

In the beginning it was all positive communication. We were giving stuff away, and involving people in branding, naming aircraft and never actually running the risk of alienating anyone because our flights weren’t in operation.

And still wearing his uniform. What a guy

But when you start operating the real world takes over. At that point we had to deal with two-way conversations and it’s not something we could shy away from, because we had already been very interactive. Many airlines rely solely on one-way communication which protects their shopfront: their Facebook page and Twitter, from graffiti, but it doesn’t necessarily build relationships, credibility or an audience. Or stop people feeling the way they feel.

Social media is a double-edged sword. It allows you to have a personal relationship with people in real time. It’s advantageous because the turnaround time is quick, and it is also cheap. The downside is that because it is personal and reciprocal by nature, it’s easy to get bogged down in individual conversations, rather than being a step removed, as in traditional media.

And the social media generation expects a level of relationship that is quite hard to deliver. Many people don’t read the proactive material that already exists as a knowledge base on the website. They simply post the simple question, for example “Do you fly to HK?” And the conversation can continue infinitely. How do you stop such a conversation? Once it has occurred there is a digital record, and it is on your shopfront.

There’s also the management of expectations. As with Trip Advisor and some of the ratings and comments, it’s all about personal expectations and whether they are realistic in the context of the company’s promise and price paid. Everyone in business is struggling with this. How do you maintain this personal and interactive dialogue with people yet close it off in a polite way and not pollute the general perception of the brand? How to inform and engage and keep to the brand ethos, at the same time as addressing customer’s questions and concerns? I don’t think anyone has got the answer yet.’