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Oftentimes, sentiment analysis offers insight you’d never expect about your brand. Other times, it’s a reinforcement of common sense – a strong reinforcement. It can show when you’re crossing the line with your target audience and why it’s maybe not the best idea to go on the offensive online. But don’t take our word for it, take this real-time example from Ryanair . . .

It’s Not Them, It’s You

It’s the height of the holiday season in Europe and travelers are in no mood for delays – not from weather (which they’re having a bad run of right now) and certainly not from strikes, which are making the whole weather backlog much worse than it needs to be. Weather can’t be avoided, and travelers are (for the most part) understanding, unless you compound their troubles somehow:

But this strike business? Well, Ryanair isn’t making the headache it’s causing for travelers an easy pill to swallow.

To provide some background: In December of 2017, Ryanair complied, kicking and screaming, to unionization of its pilots and cabin crew and things have gone progressively downhill since, culminating in the announcement of widespread layoffs and odd ultimatums for its workers. The resulting strikes have caused cancellations and no small inconvenience for its significant clientele.

“Ryanair’s battle against walkouts by workers from Ireland to Italy . . . have hit thousands of travelers at the height of Europe’s summer vacation season. The conflict shows how the carrier — which refused to recognize unions for three decades as it disrupted the industry with a low-fare, no-frills model — is now facing the same pressures as traditional airlines. In agreeing to accept unionization after a staffing crunch last year, it has now opened itself up to demands on pay and benefits.

Yet in characteristic defiance by the company to organized labor, Ryanair’s Wilson wrote that Dublin-based pilots and flight attendants are at risk of layoffs because its local fleet will be cut by a fifth this winter.”

And rather than make any friends in this fight at all, Ryanair appears ready to bare knuckle brawl with pilots and patrons alike with its blame-shifting explanations:

They’ve been sharing tweet after tweet with words that are doing little beyond incite angry responses from those affected – and seem to not realise the tsunami of sentiment building.

Keeping Tabs on the Tide

And this is why social sentiment crisis monitoring is so essential for brands, particularly when they’re in the thick of a crisis. It can mean the difference between treading water and drowning. Ryanair is drowning. They’re not only busy rescheduling flights while simultaneously battling striking pilots and accommodating too few customer complaints, but they’re also still sharing promotions! It’s entirely tone deaf, considering:

And its announcements, meant to explain and defend have (of this writing) zero replies sympathizing. To say they’re reading the room wrong would be an understatement. They’re doing everything online as a half-measure and doing none of it well – unless . . .

All Press Is Good Press?

Maybe the folks at Ryanair know something we don’t and all press is good press? (It’s not.) The most popular media circulating about it right now is around a chaotic evacuation. That doesn’t seem a good face to present to the public under any circumstances:

And the sentiment drivers right now are sending a pretty clear message as well. We try not to post swears, but know that there are very strong emotions making the rounds online. And the actions customers are talking most about taking? Take a look:

Yikes.

Sentiment Analysis Saves the Day

Anticipating anger from people missing flights isn’t rocket science, but identifying influencers ahead of an event and activating a plan to head off anger that will steamroll you IS. Had Ryanair been monitoring buzz about its brand in real-time, it could have contacted the person sharing the evacuation video and taken proactive steps there – steps this person could have then shared/linked to from this piece of viral footage – and they could have had a powerful, relevant response to at one piece of this crisis.

Beyond that, they’d be able to gauge just how poorly their online activity is being received and modify that response to create a more appropriate message – and maybe ease up on the sales promos till the tide turns back in their favor. Though, with the way things are going they may have to rely on bringing in new clients, as the ones they current have likely aren’t coming.

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