The Four-Dimensional Approach to Using Social Media in Airlines
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The Four-Dimensional Approach to Using Social Media in Airlines

Airline customers have become more empowered, informed, interactive and collaborative with the help of state-of-the art tools such as mobility and social media. Whether it is pre-flight, in-flight or post flight, airlines must make sure that customers are satisfied with personalized services. A single mistake in serving a passenger may result in negative tweets and numerous re-tweets. On the flip side, airlines can leverage social media in a number of ways to win over passengers. Here is a four-dimensional approach to using social media to your advantage:

 4-dimensional approach to using social media in airlines

  1. Brand Building/Awareness: In an Internet age, where Facebook’s Asian population is just 4% less than the actual population of Asia (source: Uberly), social media has become one of the most effective ways to spread brand awareness and build brand reputation. Airlines can keep the market informed about their latest routes, new facilities and share/learn the feedback of actual customers through social media. Direct engagement with customers every day through social media helps airlines build ample trust and confidence among stakeholders and passengers in the most cost-effective manner.
  2. Revenue Generation: If used efficiently and intelligently, social media can become effective tools of revenue generation for an airline. Most airline prospects are active on social media: Approximately 32% of Internet users use Twitter (source: Marketing Land).

Airlines can generate revenues by -

  • Big Data analytics that enables airlines to serve customized offerings based on passenger interest
  • Sharing promotion codes
  • Implementing complete IBE on Facebook,
  • Proactively suggesting customized travel plans on social media channels.

Apart from this, social media may end up helping airlines reduce marketing costs and increase ROI. JetBlue, for example, generates revenues by offering last-minute deals and cheap flights every Tuesday through their Twitter account. An integrated social media team of JetBlue has, thus, helped the airline gain more than 17, 20,000 followers (as on May, 2013).

  1. Promotion: Social networking provides a plethora of opportunities for airline businesses through generic promotion codes, new circulations or customized promotions which are geography, gender, or sport specific.

Facebook has over 850 million monthly active users (source:AllTwitter), out of which 25% don’t bother about any kind of privacy control (source: Jeff Bullas). The number is big enough for an airline to hit the right target market. Airlines need strong information gathering and analysis tools to slice and dice the user data and share customized promotions with them. From offering last-minute deals to promoting a new flight over Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online channels, airlines can reach their target segment with minimal effort. Cathay Pacific encouraged Facebook users to create an itinerary for 80 days on Cathay Pacific Facebook account. This enabled Cathay to increase visibility and network awareness without investing huge sums on promotional and marketing activities.

  1. Customer Service: The power of social media has a significant impact on the way services are provided to the airline customers. Today, passengers are more informed and impatient as compared to the older generation. They waste no time in sharing views about and their experience with an airline. Negative sentiments, if left ignored and unresolved, can massively impact an airline’s image. Delta Airlines took up the ‘Deltaassist’ initiative wherein they responded to each and every Twitter and Facebook post about Delta. As a result of this initiative, sentiment around the Delta brand improved by 7%.

Social media can thus be used as a platform to communicate and interact with passengers, resolve customer issues, influence people and groups, and turn a negative sentiment into a positive one. Combined with analytics, it can generate additional revenue through customized promotions, deals on cheap flights and more.

Comments

Nice read Archit. Interestingly, social media has also helped airline staff members to make customers aware of their grievances. The recent videos of misbehavior of customers with in-flight staff have helped in spreading awareness among people about the need to show respect to all. It also acts as a deterrent to the other "not-so-gentle" probable customers.

Thanks. Indeed agreed. Airlines have to be on their toes to ensure they address customer's complaints as now the complaints are "In Market". As this is directly related to the very first of four areas "Brand Building". It just takes few seconds for someone to tweet negative but Airlines (as all other customer facing organizations) shall play very diligently to manage such responses and customers.

Interesting perspective Archit - Social media indeed can be a powerful medium for all the four concepts you have mentioned - brand awareness, customer services, promotions & revenue generation.

Nice read Archit. Social media is two edged sword which provides high returns with minimum efforts on either sides. It's all about managing, every org needs a dedicated social media team in outward looking department be it marketing or sales.

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