Popular comedian's Facebook rant opens up can of worms for Firefly

What happens when a comedian misses his flight? He posts a rant on Facebook, of course. But people miss their flight all the time - it’s no big deal, right?

Well, in the case of Malaysian comedian Afdlin Shauki, his Facebook complaint garnered over 23,000 shares and quickly prompted comments from fans who have had similar experiences with the guilty airline, Firefly.

" data-width="500">

Hari ni aku baru tahu yg Firefly tu adalah Airline yg tak bagus. Tak pernah aku naik flight yg terbang awal dari...

Posted by Afdlin Shauki on Sunday, July 5, 2015

His Facebook post reads, “Today I found out that Firefly is not a good airline. Never have I ever taken an airline that departs before its stated departure time. We checked in early and the flight took off 10 minutes earlier.”

Boasting over 1.3 million followers, on Facebook, Afdlin’s post opened up an unexpected channel for previous Firefly customers to complain about the same issue.

The missed flight left him and his companion stranded in Senai airport in Johor Bahru.

Afdlin also noted that he had to wait for Firefly’s delayed flight only to be left behind by its unexpectedly early scheduling, “It doesn’t make any sense,” Afdlin added.

A+M is reaching out to Firefly for its comment.

Comments on the post has ranged from humour to collective frustration, with some fans empathising the celebrity’s experience and recounting similar instances with Firefly. With such a large following on social media, how do celebrity complaints impact brands?

Don Anderson, managing director, We Are Social Singapore, explained that the degree of influence and sway that celebrities can have on social media cannot be ignored. "For this reason, brands have to know the difference, particularly those in the service sector who are most vulnerable to criticism on social media," he added.

"When a celebrity or online influencer takes to social media to air their concerns about a particular service,  it creates an even greater urgency for brands to take immediate action and create a dialogue with the individual to understand the true nature of the situation. Not responding in a timely manner will only serve to create greater suspicion and doubt among the community of how serious or concerned the brand is about customer service and the needs of their consumers."

To fix this misunderstanding, Preetham Venkky, head of digital strategy & business, KRDS Singapore, recommended that the first step to nixing such a social media fiasco is for the brand to “be social and reach out to the celebrity in person in order to have a discussion and explain the issue face-to-face."

Anderson agreed with this option:" In most cases, it’s better to take the conversation offline and decide on a ‘win-back’ strategy with the individual."

In preparing a response plan for customer complaints on social media, Anderson advised that brands do a follow-up audit of conversations around the brand and that of their competitors in order to assess general perceptions of their service quality levels.

"But brands shouldn’t wait until someone, regardless if they are a celebrity, takes to social to air their gripes. Social listening and regular auditing of conversations should be fundamental to their business," Anderson said.

“The brand should also respond to the complaint. For instance, it could blog with a response to the incident  and link the blog and promote it on social media channels,” Venkky added.