Social Media will not rescue Ryanair

I admire Michael O’Leary’s ruthless focus and single-mindedness.  In the days before social media was invented, he figured out that there was a market in treating people like cattle, charging peanuts and then taking the flack (not to mention the money).

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But, recent sales figures at Ryanair suggest that this strategy is running out of steam. As cleverer people (like Easyjet) have figured out that you can be cheap and cheerful, rather than cheap and very rude, there is less and less reason to fly with the Irish Maverick.

The shareholders are rightly worried. And a sticking plaster solution is already in place. Ryanair has rolled out a social-media campaign that asks consumers for ideas about how it can improve its customer service.  You can help them via twitter

My guess is that you won’t want to help them. My guess is that when a brand has spent the best part of a decade being rude to the people who support their share price (otherwise known as customers), said customers will need more than a social media campaign to be persuaded that the Leopard has changed its spots.

I’m sorry, Michael, but you can’t create a brand based on ignoring people and then, when times get tough, ask them what they think. You can’t be an anti-social brand, and then suddenly come over all social-media-like.  The Germans have a word for the feeling many frequent flyers are feeling right now.  It’s Schadenfreude.  Which is not a good feeling for any brand to inspire – ever.