Today there are millions of photos posted on various social networks every second. For instance, on Facebook alone we upload 300 million photos daily. Meanwhile, if one was to print all of the pictures currently posted on Instagram, it would reach 6 351 kilometres from the Earth. When it comes to the themes of these photos, the most popular trend is a selfie! It has spread so widely, that only the most entertaining/shocking pics receive significant public attention or cause any controversy. However, prior to taking a seemingly innocent selfie, certain professionals should think twice, and airline crew members are amongst the ones on the list of employees that should maintain a clean reputation at all times.
The fact that back in 2013 the Oxford Dictionary named “selfie” the word of the year raised few eyebrows amongst social networkers. After all, more than 88 million photos were hash-tagged #selfie that year. Industry wise the statistics were no less impressive with over 1,000 airline crew members from all over the world introducing their own hashtags for images labeled #crewlife, #milehighselfie, #flywithme, #airhostess, #flightattendant, etc.
Most airlines encourage the spread of such photos (especially when these pics are captured/posted by clients), as they consider the practice to be a cheap yet very effective supplement to the more traditional means of marketing. For instance, in 2013 Turkish Airlines reached about 100 million traveller prospects with selfies. It largely contributed to the tripled YouTube brand searches and helped to secure a 16% increase in Google global brand searches. Inspired by the success story, a Russian-based carrier S7 Airlines has recently launched a campaign called the Right to do a Selfie, stating that from now on no airline passenger shall be refused the right to take a self-portrait at any time during the flight. However, far from many airlines are univocal about the aforementioned right when it comes to their own employees.
“When on duty and in their official attire crew members not only provide the air carrier‘s customers with services, but are also directly and indirectly responsible for its public representation. And airlines take their reputation very seriously, meaning that they track every step of their employees’ online activities. For instance, last year a flight attendant of Aeroflot was fired after posting a photo of giving the middle finger on one of her social media accounts. The same thing happened to one other Aeroflot flight attendant. In May 2012 a Russian Superjet slammed into the side of a volcanic mountain while on a demonstration tour near Jakarta. The flight attendant was fired after joking about the crash on her social media profile,” shares Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of AviationCV.com.
While an ordinary user might be amused by such bad boy attitude of certain airline employees, most carriers are not thrilled about their provocative photos receiving hundreds of likes on Facebook. The limits do vary, however. For instance, while Delta Airlines does allow its employees to take (and share) selfies freely, their flight attendants are prohibited from posting any photographs with celebrities. What is ridiculous is that despite knowing the rule well, crew members are still breaking it aboard. For instance, not so long ago the crew members of Vietnam Airlines were in breach of the official regulations twice. They posed for a photo with a celebrity in the cockpit during the flight and then posted it on internet. This comes to show that 15 minutes of fame is sometimes just too strong.
“When posting a selfie not every employee can assess its potential impact on the company’s reputation, which is why all crew members should maintain a serious approach to the difference between the daily and work functions. While some of the shots may be funny, the crew members posting them may not be the ones having the last laugh” says Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of AviationCV.com. “However, it must be stressed that despite all the pitfalls, social media remains a powerful and useful source of new career opportunities. Taking into account a wide range of advantages many HR-resourcing platforms hold for flight attendants and other industry representatives, the importance of online tools in the contemporary labour market is hard to overestimate."