For big brands social media is like a dad attending an 18-year-old’s birthday party, according to the new director of marketing and e-commerce at Thomas Cook.
Mike Hoban, who has joined the travel giant from Confused.com, told a Business Breakfast organised by Travolution sister publication Travel Weekly that big brands were better off staying out of the medium.
“You are allowed to pay for the alcohol, you are allowed to pay for the party, but you are not allowed to take part,” he said. “It’s right to monitor it, it’s right to provide value, but do not try to get too involved – it’s never good to see dad trying to dance at a party.
“Social media is not the big commercial channel that some people make it out to be. I’m not expecting it to be in my lifetime. A lot of brands make the mistake of gate crashing social media.”
Richard Tams, British Airways head of sales and marketing, agreed saying “some brands do appear to be Grandad dancing at the disco” but he said he believed social media had a role to play in sifting through deals.
He said there was one website that “ruthlessly” assesses whether an offer the carrier puts into the marketplace is a good deal or not.
Matthew Crummack, lastminute.com president, added: “It’s about being there when you customer is living an experience. Firstly you need to be there with a relevant message that does not look out of place.
“And make sure that what you are communicating is authentic. If you are trying to be something you are not, social networks immediately expose you. Being true to yourself is fundamental. It’s something we are really working hard on.”
Tams said BA’s ‘Don’t Fly’ London Olympics campaign – in which customers could input their postcode so a plane taxis down their street – had featured heavily on social networks and helped the brand to engage with a younger audience.
But he said the link to “hard sales” was a more difficult one to make. “It created a huge halo effect that related to sales – at least I hope it did. It increased our relevancy. We do that in a careful way, it’s got to be right for the brand.”
Travel Weekly launched its Business Breakfasts last year aimed at readers of its Business:am morning news alert. This year a series of events will take place with the help of headline sponsor GfK, the official source of industry data, and supported by travel technology specialist Vertical Systems.