Carnival received an enormous outpouring of customer comments – both positive and negative – over the past week, but it could have been more proactive in its responses and updates given the visibility of the situation.
Carnival Cruise Lines could have turned its Triumph crisis into a social media success, but it did not. Instead it went inward, then chose to use social media as a megaphone rather than a method of two-way communication. It also had the dubious honor of being the subject of a trending hashtag on Twitter: #cruisefromhell.
— Men's Health Mag (@MensHealthMag) February 15, 2013
As one of the more favored cruise lines on the Internet, the troubled travel giant was in a prime position to do so: It is the most liked cruise line on Facebook with 2,192,322 “Likes” and the third-most followed cruise line on Twitter with 72,643 followers.
Although it posted 20 Triumph-related posts to Facebook since the incident, it failed to use social media to update family members, press, and onlookers to the conditions and status of the Triumph during last week’s travails, choosing instead to use it as a mouthpiece from CEO Gerry Cahill’s press conference and apology session.
When it did reach out, Carnival turned to Facebook rather than Twitter to share updates and engage with customers. Its 20 Triumph-related Facebook posts received as many as 10,038 Likes (on a post stating all passengers were home) and 3,032 comments (on a statement from Cahill).
The cruise company’s Twittter account didn’t kick into high gear until Thursday, four days after the Carnival Triumph engine fire. According to SkiftSocial, the cruise company’s average daily tweet rate for the past five years has been just over three a day, but it tweeted more than ten times that number on February 15 as passengers finally left the Carnival Triumph. The majority of the tweets were a series of apologetic and explanatory quotes from Cahill, like the following:
Our company was founded on the idea of providing great vacations to fun loving Americans and clearly we failed on this cruise.
— Carnival Cruise Line (@CarnivalCruise) February 15, 2013
After the cruise line reported all passengers had disembarked on Friday, February 15, both Facebook and Twitter went silent until Tuesday, February 19, when it tweeted a link to a Facebook post on its upcoming Crew Member of the Month awards.
Apparently even a massive public health and public relations disaster isn’t reason enough for Carnival’s social media team to speak to its consumers and the public over a holiday weekend.
Although it didn’t post updates since Friday, Carnival did continue commenting on passengers’ many Facebook posts throughout the weekend.
Carnival representatives were quick to comment on nearly every positive message posted to its Facebook page, but rarely responded to negative posts. For such a widely publicized accident, Carnival’s page has remarkably few negative comments.
Carnival did not respond to a number of inquiries from Skift regarding their social media strategy during the crisis.
For a more in-depth look at statistics on Carnival’s social media activity during the past two weeks, check out our first data dashboard, SkiftSocial. Read more about SkiftSocial’s launch here, and what it means for social media monitoring in the travel industry.
Carnival’s activity by hour of the day Facebook over the past two weeks:
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Photo credit: The Carnival Triumph cruise ship is towed towards the dock as spectators watch at the port of Mobile, Alabama, February 14, 2013. Lyle Ratliff / Reuters