AirAsia’s CEO turns on social

December 30, 2014

AirAsia’s CEO turns on social

It came as no surprise to me that AirAsia‘s CEO Tony Fernandes would make good use of social media in terms of expressing his feelings, updating families of passengers and traveling to the site where the fallen flight took off. He is one of the most active social media CEOs and always ends up on the lists of most social CEOs. In fact, I wrote about his abandonment of Twitter approximately six months ago because it made headlines due to his extreme popularity. At the time, it was thought he was going to become an Instagram-user instead but his last Instagam post was in October so that was not the case. When he decided to leave Twitter, he said he was going to focus on turning 50 and his sports team QPR. He mentioned that he might return to Twitter at some point. Little did he know.

CEO-watchers like myself often look for symbolic signals. Since the flight QZ8501 disappeared and it is now increasingly clear that it crashed with no survivors, AirAsia and Fernandes’s tweets (and the company’s Facebook page and web site) are not using the fiery red logo but a greyed out one out of respect. It sends a solemn message that is thoughtful and sets the right tone. 

As much as everyone talks about the rise of Instagram, there are occasions such as this that favor Twitter as the messenger. People want information in text form when a crisis unfolds and Twitter as well as Facebook and others do it magnificently. We should not forget. And we should not forget that because Fernandes was so familiar and comfortable with Twitter, he was able to jump right in and communicate. There’s only a handful of CEOs who can do this. This is a good reason for CEOs to climb on board and become more social. Figuring out how to “turn on” social media when crisis strikes is not the right time. 

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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