A Guide to Posting on FlyerTalk for Official Representatives of Companies
If you are an official representative of your company on FlyerTalk, this article is for you — and thank you for the service you provide to fellow FlyerTalk members. However, you might not always find it easy to communicate your message with fellow FlyerTalk members — or even interact with them in general. In fact, you might even find the task daunting and intimidating.
I am here to assist you.
As part of your job, one of the tasks for your company is to officially represent it on FlyerTalk by posting information about your company on FlyerTalk and interacting with FlyerTalk members on a regular or semi-regular basis who have questions or comments about the products, services and promotions offered by your company.
Within the past couple of years, the concept of highlighting the FlyerTalk names of company representatives in green was introduced to clearly indicate to fellow FlyerTalk members that you are officially a representative of your company — differentiating you from other FlyerTalk members who may be employed by your company and post on FlyerTalk but do not officially post on behalf of your company, and may even have a signature containing a disclaimer that their opinions do not necessarily represent those of your company.
FlyerTalk members are typically passionate about the earning and usage of frequent travel loyalty program points and miles — perhaps to a point of obsession. At first glance, FlyerTalk members might seem weird and crazy, greedy and selfish, rude and unforgiving — and that might actually describe some FlyerTalk members accurately. However, you will find that many FlyerTalk members are quite knowledgeable and intelligent, rational and reasoning, generous and giving, polite and open-minded. Some FlyerTalk members like to pop in occasionally just to find and use the information they need; others like to spend many hours per day at a time on FlyerTalk to be a part of the community…
…and if you add the fact that there are nearly 500,000 registered FlyerTalk members, your role as an official company representative on FlyerTalk may seem intimidating, thankless — and perhaps even frightening. You might have already discovered that FlyerTalk members have absolutely no hesitation in posting content which speaks about what is on their minds — and that content can be rather brusque, frank and directly to the point.
So what do you do?
Do not be intimidated. Rather — in order to get the most out of your experience as an official company representative on FlyerTalk — attempt to employ the following advice which I am about to dispense.
- Be clear about your message. Ensure that the content you post is as succinct and easy to understand as possible, as — like you — many FlyerTalk members are busy and may not have the time or patience to decipher what you are attempting to say. FlyerTalk members will most likely not read what you post if the content is too complex to understand — and if the content you post is intentionally too complex, you can count on at least one FlyerTalk member who will take the time to read it, decipher it according to his or her understanding, and disseminate it in a way in which other FlyerTalk members will understand it regardless of whether or not his or her interpretation is correct. That is something you probably would rather not see happen.
- Be forthcoming and honest. Every company has negative news about which they need to impart at some point to their customers and stakeholders. Be frank and concise. Post it. FlyerTalk members are big boys and girls. Many of them will take the bad news in stride and perhaps even thank you for sharing it in an honest manner. Do not attempt to “sugar-coat” your message or use euphemistic terms such as enhancement or improvement to dilute the negative message. FlyerTalk members will see right through you and your marketing jargon. If you want to erode the trust FlyerTalk members have in you or the company you represent, not being honest and forthcoming is an excellent way to diminish that trust and have FlyerTalk members lose respect for you.
- Answer questions clearly and concisely. One of the worst things you can do to a FlyerTalk member — and, quite frankly, to a customer in general — is to not answer his or her question right away. Even worse, you are practically guaranteed to lose that customer by not answering the question at all. If a FlyerTalk member asks a question which requires a yes or no answer, then answer yes or no — along with a clear explanation to support your answer, if necessary. If you cannot answer the question because of legal or competitive reasons — or if the information is too sensitive to divulge — say so, as FlyerTalk members will usually understand. If you do not know the answer to the question, do not hesitate to admit it — along with a pledge that you will find out the correct answer to the question and post it. Most importantly, do not forget to follow through on your pledge.
- Post information in a timely manner. If your company intends to implement a change in policy — whether or not it is significant — do not wait until the last minute to post that information. That is wholly unfair to FlyerTalk members who claim to be faithfully loyal customers of yours who most likely have gone out of their way to purchase your product or work on achieving elite status in the frequent guest loyalty program for the year. There are few things that can be more frustrating than putting time and effort into researching a product or service about your company, only to have the policy change just after that decision was made. This can be perceived as an indication that neither you nor your company values the time of FlyerTalk members, who — like it or not — are a part of the customer base of your company.
- Offer incentives to FlyerTalk members and their involvement. Everyone likes to feel special in some way. While offering a free round trip in the business class cabin on an international flight or a free week in the Presidential Suite of the finest hotel property certainly would be welcomed by FlyerTalk members — and that is an extreme understatement — you do not have to “give away the store” with incentives. For example, poll FlyerTalk members on a policy change or product offering of which your company is considering for its customers and offer a small prize to a few or gift to all — perhaps 500 frequent travel loyalty program points or miles, or a coupon towards a free drink or amenity — as an appreciation for their time. There are countless inexpensive ways to involve FlyerTalk members in giving valuable input towards decisions pertaining to the company which you officially represent on FlyerTalk — even if that involvement is minimal at best.
- Do not outright advertise for your company. As a form of social media which has existed for almost 15 years, FlyerTalk is a community of members — not simply a vehicle to freely advertise what your company has to offer. Interact with FlyerTalk members. Merely posting for the sake of advertising and marketing is talking at FlyerTalk members — and they will not view that favorably, to say the least.
- Do not simply post and leave. FlyerTalk members want to interact with you. Do not become a “seagull manager” where you simply swoop in whenever a problem arises — only to disappear until the next issue is discussed.
- Understand the content of what FlyerTalk members are posting. If you are not sure of what FlyerTalk members mean by something, do not hesitate to ask for clarification — and do not attempt to respond to a discussion whose topic you do not clearly understand. This could lead to you posting incorrect information.
- Acknowledge being wrong. If you posted something on FlyerTalk in error, own up to it and admit it. If necessary, apologize for posting incorrect information. Post the correct information. Do not attempt to use some feeble explanation or excuse to cover up or justify the error — that will not look good at all. Be sure to be available to answer questions when they are posted.
- Be polite. This should go without saying, but always use terms such as “please” and “thank you” to show FlyerTalk members that you indeed do appreciate their input. Although it may be trying at times, never employ a condescending attitude towards FlyerTalk members — as I cannot think of one example where that has actually mitigated or resolved an issue or a problem.
- Be a part of the community. You are a FlyerTalk member as well, and you are entitled to enjoy all of the benefits which other FlyerTalk members enjoy. For example, you might not believe how many official company representatives I know who do not travel as often as you might think. Meet the community by attending a gathering of FlyerTalk members — usually found in the CommunityBuzz! forum — somewhere around the world. This is an excellent way to get to know your customers — and competitors — better, as well as to build trust in you and the company you represent. Best of all, you may just have fun in the process by traveling all over the world and meeting new people!
By implementing the suggestions listed above, you can potentially greatly increase the positive outcome of your interaction on FlyerTalk while simultaneously decreasing negative aspects significantly — and the suggestions require little effort on your part.
Many readers of The Gate are FlyerTalk members — and I can predict from personal experience that they will have no problem whatsoever commenting on any information or advice on which I am incorrect or missing in this article. Please join me in reading their comments below, as they could very well help you gain some insight as for the best, most efficient way to post as an official representative of your company on FlyerTalk.
Hopefully, this article has been helpful, useful and valuable to you — and once again, thank you for being a part of the FlyerTalk community and taking the time and effort in officially representing your company.
Oh, and one additional item: if you are the author of a weblog whose topics deal with frequent travel loyalty program miles and points as well as travel, you might find much of the advice given above to be helpful to you as well.