Saturday, November 5th, 2011

This week saw the unfolding of the largest social media disaster Australia has ever seen. Hundreds of thousands of people took to Twitter and Facebook to complain, abuse and question Qantas over their decision to ground all domestic and international flights. Is this the beginning of the 'Unliking' of one of Australia's great icons?

Kate vanderVoort, social media specialist at Social Mediology, says, "There is a lot to be learned from this crisis for all businesses." Within 36 hours of the announcement Social Mediology had collected hundreds of screen shots and analysed the response from Qantas in the aftermath. They posted a blog about the case study and within 12 hours had a response from a Qantas staff member who works in the social media team.

"We didn’t have answers. We didn’t know anything more than the general public," says Cara Pring, stating her comments are her own. Her response articulated some of the challenges they faced whilst acknowledging "This talk of us being ‘wooden’ and ‘corporate’ is probably quite true, and the reasoning is that in these type of situations you have no choice but to follow strictly worded (legally approved) text or face huge legal implications."

The full response can be seen here:

The public continue to take to the air waves to express their disgust, their anger and in some cases, their support. Ms vanderVoort points out that it was a very complicated situation for Qantas to handle in such a public forum and adds "Qantas could have done a better job of communicating why they weren't communicating. The absence of any comments other than the scripted company messages in the first 36 hours led to increased anger and frustration, particularly from stranded passengers across the globe."

Ms vanderVoort says: "It was great to have a comment from a Qantas staff person right in the midst of the crisis, explaining some of the reasoning behind their strategy. I think ours was the only criticism that got a response!"

Contact Profile

Social Mediology

Social Mediology specialises in social media strategy, implementation, policy and training for small to medium sized business and the not for profit sector.

Using from the 'Ground up' strategies, the founder of Social Mediology understands that social media requires a very different approach for small to medium sized businesses than those with large advertising budgets.

Tailored coaching and training packages are available to train staff in all aspects of social media and to support business in the development of a social media strategy. Social Media LIVE! is a public workshop to help small business, sole traders and charities learn the key strategies in making social media work for them.
Kate vanderVoort
P: 0419 289 958


Qantas social media, Qantas strike, Qantas backlash



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