Sometimes I think about what I would do differently if I created this blog today, rather than continuing on from something I started over a year ago. The first thing would be to have my own domain name. I once read something from uber-blogger Robert Scoble saying that when you begin blogging, choose a domain you keep forever. Good advice from a branding standpoint.

Two things have got me thinking about my own social media presence recently. Firstly I’ve been seeing about double the traffic to this site in recent weeks compared to what I was seeing when I made a guess that about 80 people were reading each post back in November. ¬†Numbers would have to be closer to 150 people these days, so thank you very much for the continued support. I’ve played around with a few things on the site to get across a bit more of my own personal brand, like adding a photo on my profile page and tweaking the logo. I made comments from readers like you much more prominent on the homepage as this was being buried previously, but I wish I could get a decent three column template from WordPress that allowed for a custom header. Seeing as this blog is definitely just a sideline and not my real job, and I’m not actually paying WordPress, I suppose I really have no right to complain.

The second reason I’ve been thinking about my own online presence is more related to the bigger social media picture and the attitude of Ryanair towards the changing media landscape. Occasionally I see search engine traffic coming to this site that is obviously from passengers with no connection to the industry, but on the whole, the vast majority of readers are insiders – exactly the market I am aiming for. As an example, I’m guessing the person who arrived on this site earlier today from Google after searching for “can i be a witness at wedding via skype” was not really looking for airline direct channel information.

How does any of this have anything to do with Ryanair? To see the answer, take a look at Damian Corrigon from About.com who writes on Spain Travel. After asking what I thought sounded like a very reasonable question about flight cancellations due to the new volcanic ash cloud to Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara, he received the following answer.

That is potentially the most stupid question I have ever received. You show your complete lack of knowledge of the situation and the airline industry – which is why we ignore bloggers. Grow up Damian.

Admittedly Damian’s question was written in a smart-alec tone, but blogging is about getting your personality across, and readers want some colour in what they read. I’ve heard way too many people over-hype social media, and I don’t expect Ryanair to give industry bloggers like me any special treatment, but About.com is a consumer brand and just letting people like Damian and his readers be left with such a negative impression of Ryanair really makes me question the response from McNamara.

Given the ongoing success of Ryanair, something I do question is whether their antagonistic attitude towards the media (especially the new media) is actually backed up by some insight or research justifying their position. If it was, it could put a lot of social media consultants out of work. But until I see it, I’m starting to wonder more and more if Ryanair really just do not understand how passenger preferences are being influenced these days, and whether this intransigence may have longer term negative impacts for the airline.

One other company I’m spending some time thinking about at the moment is Facebook. Every airline I talk to is trying to understand how to best utilize this site, but if you really want to understand the primary reason why I am becoming less and less likely to ever open an account, please take a look at this excellent graphic from Matt McKeon.

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