Five Social Media Lessons You Can Learn from North Korea

Yup, there's a lot a Communist company can teach you about social media marketing. Ready to have your MIND BLOWN?

Could you have ever imagined that North Korea’s state airline would be a model for social media marketing? I know, it’s crazy! Air Koryo doesn’t need to turn a profit, of course, thanks to the Communist regime that supports it. But, the isolated country’s perpetual need for outside currency makes tourism at least somewhat important. To this end, the company is engaging with its target market through Facebook, and the results aren’t exactly what you’d expect.

So, how does one of the most oppressive regimes interact with a market that may not understand it fully? Pretty well, actually. If you’re just getting ready to start your social media marketing program, there are a few things you could learn from how Air Koryo does it:

1. Content is crucial: did you know that Air Koryo flies from Kuwait City to Pyongyang? Neither did I! With the information on Air Koryo’s Facebook page, you can learn about new routes and get better insights into the consumer experience with this airline. It’s all fueled by content. What’s particularly interesting is that (I’m guessing) Air Koryo doesn’t have much of a marketing budget, and it’s still churning out lots of interesting content.

2. You can make Facebook your primary presence: Air Koryo doesn’t have a website. But, it does have a Facebook page. The company uses Facebook as its primary online presence. Since online check-in and purchasing aren’t options (the airline likely doesn’t have access to the technology), this is probably a smarter, lower-cost alternative to a sprawling website.

3. You don’t need contests: how many airlines and other consumer-oriented companies have you seen running contests to generate “likes” and comments? Well, they could learn something from a competitor that doesn’t even have a loyalty program (not that it needs one): Air Koryo doesn’t give anything away, and it already has more than 1,000 fans. And, just being on Facebook has generated a hefty amount of hype in the media!

4. A sense of humor is your best asset: let’s be realistic – many Facebook users will approach a North Korean operation with a fair amount of skepticism. The person running the Air Koryo website appears to be ready for this and comes across as almost charming sometimes. Even language isn’t a huge barrier and can lead to some chuckle-worthy exchanges.

When asked how many North Koreans live in Kuwait, the page administrator responded that it’s between “5 and 10,000.” A user responded to a response that was obviously intended to be “5,000 and 10,000”: “‎between 5 and 10000″ … Wow, that is an accurate answer !”

The response: “We’re [not] exactly demographers here, so exact figures are beyond us. Sorry.”

5. Honesty is key: when visitors criticize your product, or ask about features you aren’t planning, there’s no substitute for honesty. My personal favorite is a response to a question about online check-in: “You kidding right?’ Air Koryo responded. “There are many things to do before even looking at ‘Online check-in’ such as actually creating a website.'” It pays to have a product roadmap!