Back in the late 1990’s and into early 2000 when I, like a lot of people at the time, were trying to understand what business models would work on the internet, I came into contact with a lot of people professing to understand what this whole e-commerce thing was about. The big consulting firms were making a fortune from selling expensive projects resulting in a dubious level of insight. But around this time there were two people I met who were like beacons of light on a stormy night. One was Ramin Marzbani, the other was Rob McLean.  Sometimes you can forget just how many people were selling hair brained ideas back in those days, but if you’ve been working with the internet for many years, this story is a great trip down memory lane – see how many of those names and events you remember.

This brings me to the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. I’m under no illusion that my endorsement of him will mean any more to him as will me saying to Billy Bragg that after years of never having had any time for anything I’d heard him sing or say, I’ve discovered some form of new found respect. But if you are sick of all the snake oil salesmen trying to tell you they understand social media and how brands should navigate their way through this new form of dark and stormy night of uncertainly, please read this review of the presentation from Jimmy Wales at the Ad: Tech conference in San Francisco. Here is a snippet:

But with the plethora of advice being dispensed on the Web it is no wonder brand marketers are confused. “‘You need to interact, to blog, to Twitter’ is the general advice given today,” said Wales. “And for some brands this is absolutely the right thing to do.” The caveat of course, is having a brand that is information dense

I’m definintely not saying every airline needs to go out and hire a Chief Twitter Officer like Southwest have reportedly done, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask some critical questions about social media rather than just burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away. If you are going to get your airline involved in Travel 2.0, at least try and take heed of some of what Jimmy Wales was saying. You might just save yourself a lot a pain, and save your airline an even greater amount of money.