It often appears as if Ryanair has given free rein to a group of teenagers to take over its social media channels, mercilessly mocking passengers who have a gripe with the airline or poking fun at celebrities and politicians with seemingly zero connection to Ryanair.
But Ryanair’s head of social media, Michael Corcoran, tells Adweek that there really is a method in the madness behind the airline’s viral successes.
“A lot of people think we’re just a bunch of 12-year-olds shit-posting on the internet, or the school bully who gives everyone a nipple cripple every now and then,” Corcoran told the industry publication in typically forthright fashion.
“But there’s a method behind the madness,” Corcoran continued. “If you’re posting boring shit that’s not entertainment and driving culture and connecting with people, you’re not getting good value out of the platforms.”
Corcoran is particularly dismissive of airlines that use their social media platforms to post glossy and professionally made ads that don’t make any connection with the demographics that are actually using the platforms.
“Gen Z doesn’t want perfect content, they want [brands] to be more real and human, so that’s influenced a lot of what we’ve done.”
Exhibit A: Ryanair’s current obsession with trolling passengers who make complaints on social media about booking a window seat only to find out that row 11 on most of its Boeing 737s doesn’t actually have a window.
Corcoran says this strategy is helping to shift people’s perception of the airline, and best of all, the cost is almost zero. In fact, the airline says it reached around 200 million people via its social posts in October alone, and not a single post cost any money or was promoted.
To achieve so many viral successes, Ryanair’s social team is a lot more professional than it might at first appear. There are two divisions to the operation – the first is looking to change brand perception, whereas the other division is about ‘newsjacking’ trends and inserting Ryanair into the story.
Exhibit B: A recent photo of Katy Perry seemingly voting for a Conservative lawmaker was changed by Ryanair’s social media team to make it look like she was selecting seats on one of its flights.
“The two of them working together allow us to cut through on social and shift perceptions,” Corcoran said in his interview with Adweek.
There are, however, some topics that Ryanair won’t jump on. You won’t see Ryanair poking fun at airline safety, for example, and divisive topics like religion and race are also completely off-limits.
For everything else, however, Corcoran says he’s more than happy for Ryanair to say what everyone else is thinking. So far, it’s been a massively successful strategy and has helped to win the famously frugal airline tons of free marketing.
The full interview can be read here.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.