Singapore Airline brand Scoot considers giving up all social media

Singapore Airline owned low cost carrier Scoot are threatening to give up their social media presence just to “see what happens”, according to its  commercial director Steven Greenway speaking at the Customer Loyalty 2013 conference.

In what was one of the most honest performances from a senior marketing professional that I have ever seen at a conference Greenway admitted that “sales were all that mattered, there was no time for a long term strategy, don’t employ any consultants/agencies- do it yourself, and they enjoyed trying things to see if they worked”.

The last comment was particularly related to some very cool and innovative social media tactics that have driven tens of thousands of new fans to Fly Scoot. These include a “beat the fare down” promotion which resulted in thousands of people liking the new Scoot fare to Seoul from Singapore. In doing so they lowered the price from $300 to $188 and Scoot sold thousands of tickets on the back of it. They even promoted it through a cheesy yet funny Korean soap opera type drama that they filmed in an afternoon at Scoot offices.

Both tactics were promoted through Facebook which makes the statement that Scoot would “give up social just to see what happens”. Brave and slightly bizarre.

It echoes in someways the decision that General Motors made last year to pull all of its Facebook advertising.

In essence what Greenway was saying is that Facebook “likes” themselves do not generate any tickets sales or revenue. People are there on Facebook mostly to complain about everything from the food to the service, according to Greenway.

Bravely, and rightly in my view Greenway, believes that leaving up all kinds of comments, good and bad, on the Scoot Facebook site is the right thing to do.

Scoot have 253,000 likes on Facebook, whereas Coca Cola are the number one brand with 62 million likes. It admitted recently that this actually drove no direct sales

Eric Schmidt, Coca-Cola’s senior manager of marketing strategy and insights said “We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz (on Facebook) and our short-term sales.”

So on that basis is Greenway right to drop his social media?

Another reason to abandon Facebook maybe the hassle factor. Having just looked at their Facebook site Scoot have had to remove some comments due to them crossing the line of offensive abuse (see enclosed), the one area that Greenway admitted that they remove comments on the Facebook site.

So is Facebook worth the hassle? Does it actually drive sales or is it like an app that a brand thinks it needs but then doesn’t spend any money marketing, just a nice to have?

Coke don’t think so, Greenway seems unconvinced. If brands like these (bearing in mind that Scoot is a purely on line brand), don’t feel that Facebook works from a commercial business point of view, what hope do other brands have in justifying social media presence and resources?