Social Media Policies – Pros and Cons

You may well have seen this, but I hadn’t and I thought it’s worth commenting on. This is from February this year, when an Irish blogger – Jason Roe – thought he had discovered a glitch in Ryanair’s website. He blogged about it. His post attracted commentary from Ryanair Staff – later confirmed as being, yep, a member of Ryanair’s staff.

Read – and gasp in wonder – here.

Quite clearly, at the time, Ryanair had no social media policy, governing who could post to what, when and how they should approach it. When the official response came out – here’s an article containing it (and a picture of Mr Roe) – it was made quite clear that they had no intention of getting a social media policy anytime soon.

You can take one of two things from this – up to you.

  • This is a salutary lesson in the importance of having a social media policy and ensuring that all your employees understand and abide by it
  • This demonstrates that it really doesn’t matter whether you have a policy or not, and whether your employees post to social media sites/blogs/messageboards or not – if your company has a sound business proposition, corporate reputation is not important, you’ll continue to make money

Personally, I think it’s all about what sort of company it is and – most importantly – what sort of leadership it has, based on the eternal truth that, like it or not, all business organisations will reflect the character of their leaders (CEO, President, Chairman – whatever).

In the case of Ryanair, it’s all about price. It’s cheap and it at the moment it has a strong customer base because it’s cheap. As long as it’s cheaper (or as cheap) as its competitors, it will have a share of the current market, a market which is (must be?) growing as people (generally) have less money. Therefore, the warmth of corporate reputation and customer admiration is something it doesn’t need.

And its leader is Michael O’Leary, a seemingly unpleasant, short individual with – it would be easy to infer from interviews given and commentary made – the emotional intelligence of a scorpion and the subtlety of an angry rhino. (Just in case anyone’s missed him – here’s some O’Learyisms.)

On balance, a company such as Ryanair has no need of a social media policy currently. It remains to be seen how long they can continue like this, mind.

(Oh – and I’d fly Aer Lingus or Aer Arann if I were you.)

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