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28 Apr


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Part 2: Airlines’ Social Media Success Stories

April 28, 2011 | By | No Comments

A follow up blog to my first post on how airlines are struggling with Social Media.

I explained in my previous blog how airlines were hurting their brand by implementing faulty social media strategies. This post will highlight a few airlines and their social media success stories, such as Southwest uses their blog, “Nuts About Southwest” to be more transparent (and even admit to mistakes) with their customers.

Twitter has become the popular customer service social networking tool among airlines.  In fact, it has become so widely used that Eezeer’s data lab (a service that creates statistical sets of information about Twitter usage and travel brands) in partnership with SimpliFlying began publishing the “Airlines Monthly Twitter Report” infographic in March 2011.

Delta, an airline with a large complaint total got engaged and launched @DeltaAssist in May 2010 to help passengers with customer service issues.  According to the infographic Delta Airlines sends and receives the most tweets in the industry.  This can be misleading though because at the bottom of the graphic you can see that Delta did not lead any of the consumer satisfaction categories, but at least they seem to be joining conversations. Delta was also the first airline to offer check-in and flight statuses on Facebook, as well as allowing consumers to book tickets via their Wall.

Southwest Airlines has tried to be very social since the explosion of social media began.  An airline that prides itself on great customer service should be heavily involved in online conversations. Greg Chapman from Iowa rarely travels but prior to booking his flight for a recent trip to San Diego, he directly tweeted @SouthwestAir asking what the best seat for a mountain view was for his flight from Chicago.  A Twitter savvy Southwest pilot was notified and quickly responded to Chapman’s question, providing him the answer he needed.  “It was a pleasant surprise and informative. They have more than a million followers. I wasn’t really expecting a reply,” said Chapman in an USA Today interview. In March Southwest was involved in over 6000 tweets (312 outbound tweets, 6613 inbound tweets).  The numbers do not lie though, there are plenty of tweets that are going unanswered and Chapman’s case is rare.

JetBlue has recently been the most followed airline on Twitter (over 1.8 million) and they also follow the most people (almost 125k) on the same site with their accounts @JetBlue & @JetBlueCheeps. JetBlue Cheeps is the only Twitter based ticket sales account in the industry but the inventory is limited to last minute travel, unsold seats, and cancellations.  United Airlines tried something similar with “Twares” which were Twitter based fares. They abandoned the offering recently after lackluster numbers and a failed Tware 1st Anniversary Sweepstakes. The industry is and will continue to be slow to adapt to this approach because of the lack of sales and importance.

The social media approach will continue to change how we travel and book trips.  JetBlue, Delta, and Southwest are leading the way; while American, United, and US Airways struggle to make a footprint.

Innovation leads to competition, and competition in the airline industry will create easier, faster, and cheaper ways to fly.

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