A Recipe for Social Media: Stir in Language, Culture, Religion and Humour

Skyscanner takes its growing multinational presence very seriously and social media plays a big part in this. But as Yara Paoli, the company’s social media manager tells EyeforTravel’s Pamela Whitby, the firm does this with a sense of humour and fun.

EyeForTravel The German statesman Willy Brandt once said: “If I am selling to you, I speak your language. If I am buying, dann müssen sie Deutsch sprechen.” This is one of the essential principles behind the social media strategy of the online flight search engine, Skyscanner.

With a fast-growing presence across Europe and Asia Pacific, with its myriad of languages and cultures, having a social media that sticks to this must be tricky. According to Yara Paoli, Skyscanner’s social media manager the main challenge is finding the right sense of humour and the most appropriate localisation for social content.  But the approach is to “see these differences [of language and culture] as new opportunities rather than challenges”. After all travel is about moving, about discovering, about learning something new and this is exactly what Skyscanner is aiming to achieve on social channels. “With such a multi-coloured cultural rainbow we can pick from a myriad of different ideas,” she says. 

Ultimately the company wants to help people travel first virtually, as they begin to dream. But secondly to help them find out about new destinations together with (as this Rude Italian Hand gestures YouTube video shows), funny and interesting aspects of different cultures. All these factors help to motivate and inspire a real journey.

Aside from linguistic diversity the other thing Skyscanner considers carefully, when localising content and planning a social media strategy, is cultural and religious difference. 

A team effort

Skyscanner’s social marketing team is relatively small and includes Paoli as well as ‘the Sams’ Baldwin, Skyscanner’s experienced travel editor and author of For Fukui’s Sake, as well as Twitter guru ‘Poullain’. The firm also has a team of market development managers who are responsible for the various markets’ development.

The social team may be small but Paoli points out that they also have “amazing international expertise” with over 28 nationalities already in house. “We try to use this expertise and cultural knowledge at our best.” 

Skyscanner is expanding fast and the Paoli expects more interesting people to come on board soon. The criteria for employing social team players include:

•   Open- mindedness, cleverness

•   Sense of Humour

•   Multi-Cultural and preferably multi-language approach to life

•   Sense of Respect

•   Travel lovers

The inevitable question: how important is ROI?

As Paoli is well aware, the return of investment of social media is a complex but essential factor no matter how many markets you work in. “But if the ROI of social media is strictly related to engagement levels –as we think- and brand mentions on a local level then, yes it is even more important,” she says. And why is that: “Well we want is to reach the local audience proposing an exceptional and free travel comparison service, but speaking the language and engaging the humour of the locals.

Social Media is a fairly recent adoption by the majority of the small to medium companies. “Given its lack of a simple, clear model of revenue attribution it is challenging to sell to management when all they want is money,” says Paoli.

She adds, however, that Skyscanner’s management team are far-sighted and progressive and have grasped how social media has affected people’s habits and communication style across the globe. “It would be silly to just ignore it and not see this as a massive opportunity to speak directly to our targeted audience, with effective visual and interactive concepts,” says Paoli. After all, it is so much better “flicking through a warm, colourful album of Portugal places to visit than seeing a cold Google adwords advert…”

So what are Skyscanner’s top tips for creating a strong multinational social presence?

•   Be honest and fun

•   Be respectful of different languages, cultures and opinions

•   Expect the same of you fans who will value you as a good brand as a result

•   Create cool trends – watch this space!


To hear more examples of how Yara Paoli, Skyscanner’s social media manager is engaging with a multinational audience join us in Amsterdam for EyeforTravel’s Online Marketing, Mobile & Social Media in Travel, Europe 2012on Oct 3 and Oct 4

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