Chilean Volcano Causes News Feeds To Erupt

In Chile on June 25, 2011 by KHughes Tagged: , , ,

Can you imagine- rushing to the airport, thrilled and excited for your trip to New Zealand or Australia.  You step into the airport and you see “cancelled” posted all across the airport monitors.

One of the worst things ever, cancelled flights, and not just a few cancelled flights, hundreds and for weeks.  Recently, Chilies’ own Puyehue volcano erupted, leaving volcanic ash to cloud the airways leaving many airlines in a state of crisis, with thousands of people demanding information.

LAN, a Chilean based airline, has taken to social media as a form of crisis communication, providing a forum for updates and conversations during the horrific Puyehue volcano eruption.

Social Media as Crisis Communication

When using social media as crisis communication, one has to wonder, are people actually utilizing it?  If I were worried about my flight being cancelled, Facebook and/or Twitter would probably not be the first place I would think to check.  If airlines are set to utilizing these social media platforms to reach consumers during a crisis, they also need to be dedicated to promoting these platforms on a daily basis for their everyday flight information. Easy ways to do this would be through update emails and/or texts to direct consumers with links to the site, even QR codes would be great to introduce costumers to the airlines social media presence.  In this way, clients would get accustomed to using these platforms as an additional tool to access airline data.  As a consumer, I appreciate the effort on behalf of the airlines; they recognize that social media is an easy way to reach people.  However, they need to be committed to directing people to these social media forums, in order to have an effective platform for all their information, not just crisis communication.

Needless to say, I think it’s important to utilize these social media tools to engage their clients especially during a crisis. Since LAN Airlines has established both a Facebook and Twitter presence, it is important for them to draw users to both platforms equally, not just solely stick to one, or use one site more than the other.

Social Media Crisis Communication Content

After looking at the LAN Airlines Twitter and Facebook accounts, it looks as if a large part of their content is currently concentrating on the crisis, repeating over and over the link to check flight status.  Even though the crisis is the forefront of the conversation, LAN Airlines should look into finding additional ways to engage their users on a regular basis, not just posting a link repetitively to check on flight status, as is in this crisis case.

LAN Airlines Twitter actually does a better job than Facebook by engaging and answering their customers; however they shouldn’t just work on one platform.  If they have a establish a presence on other social media outlets they need to be committed to updating and engaging their users on each outlet.  They could do this by asking customers their opinions of what they would like to see when this type of situation occurs. Obviously, this opens up to the possibility of horrific comments, but it shows the consumer that the company is interested and open to their opinions.

Another option of engaging users is video content.  The Jet Blue snow storm crisis of 2007 utilized video to reach out to its customers to apologize and take responsibility for the problems that were on hand. Another aspect to consider, since consumers are already searching and reaching out to these platforms, is to regularly offer deals and discounts.  Of course, in this case, the crisis is the forefront, but since the airline has already engaged the consumer, they could take it a step further, utilizing client presence to advertise their promotions.  In this way they are able to make light of the situation as well as allow customers to think of Facebook and Twitter as go-to sites when making plans or getting airline information.

In the end, LAN Airlines is just scratching the surface of social media crisis communication.  For an airline, that’s pretty good; hopefully, over time, we will see growth in this area.  Maybe they will read my blog and reformulate their social media crisis plan?  Probably not, but here’s hoping.

One Response to “Chilean Volcano Causes News Feeds To Erupt”

  1. I liked your choice of subject to focus on the Chilean Volcano and the impact it had on travel. A link earlier in your post to an example of how LAN Chile has been using social media to communicate during the crisis (or even a screenshot of a relevant tweet) would have been a great image choice here instead of the volcano pic … but your point was taken. The focus of your post on sharing ideas for what else LAN Chile could be doing also made for good content and thinking, though your suggestions would have been much easier to read if you structured them (for example) in terms of a numbered list of suggestions. The one point where I am not sure that I agree with your suggestion is how LAN Chile might use the crisis to “advertise their promotions” as this strategy has backfired for plenty of brands in travel and other sectors who risk coming across as disconnected or looking to profit on weary and stranded travelers.

    Still, you are thinking along the right lines in terms of offering your own thinking and suggestions to take this beyond just a “book report” on what LAN Chile was doing and I liked that you seemed to really think about what else they could do. The only final caution is to avoid overestimating the impact that one blog post might have in getting a big brand like LAN Chile to rethink their approach. Though you may have just been reaching and not really been serious – the reader could take your last point about how they could “reformulate their social media crisis plan” as a bit egotistical (though I’m sure you didn’t mean it like that. Regardless, good improvement this week in your post and thinking. (4 + 1 for early posting + 1 for being first = 6)

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