Just like many other companies, major airlines are also finding their ways through social media by implementing diversified and affluent strategies on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and etc. The new business era transformed the way airlines are serving customers via contemporary approaches supported by the growing social media opportunities.
Not long ago, “tweeting” meant a little more than nothing for many airlines. The awareness is on a constant rise, as many airlines have discovered the ease and convenience twitter brought in reaching masses with a one-click process. The numbers are phenomenal. Number of tweets received by airlines between February to March 2011 has increased over 60%, from 101.400 to 162.400. Airlines in return, sent 24.000 tweets which suggest that every one of five tweets is being responded.
Coping up with the enormous amount of tweets sent by consumers has become a hustle for many companies, forcing 40% of the airlines to expand their social media & brand management teams. Major airlines are transferring employees from inside departments as corporate communications, e-commerce, customer-services and marketing to fill the gaps created by the continuously increasing demand.
Airlines are using two models for this approach. It’s either a dedicated team on social media or an integrated model where staffs from different departments are given the challenge to manage social media channels. The model chosen by each airline gives hints regarding the overall marketing strategy of the airlines. It is not hard to guess that Virgin America uses the dedicated model where Southwest uses the integrated model due to cost-concerns. Despite this fact, Southwest has a very large number of both Facebook and Twitter followers than any other airline with both figures over the 1 million user limit. This is mainly due to the fact that many consumers are willing to get hands-on information regarding promotions and discounts at Southwest.
Twitter is also widely used by European airlines which dedicate major teams to manage social media actions. KLM for instance reaches out to a total of 325.000 individual users on both Facebook and Twitter. These accounts are managed by 23 dedicated employees, who work to achieve full control and penetration over the customer base and potential customers. Turkish Airlines (THY) is also another good example from Europe for using social media as an effective marketing tool. THY dedicated a team of 9 employees within the brand management group to find new ways to exploit the resources that social media channels offer. With 280.000 individual followers, THY is constantly building new and innovative ways to promote its brand on social media. The latest award THY received from Skytrax as the “Best European Airline in 2011” by votes from 18,8 million passengers clearly shows how THY is benefiting from differentiated brand awareness strategies.
Social media channels are continuing to expand aggressively and it is now not a choice to participate but an obligation if a company is willing to succeed in its environment. Companies with more creative ways to attract consumers in social media channels have a very high potential to bag hefty profits in the future years.