European airlines have surpassed their counterparts in metrics of creativity in social media applications. This may come as a surprise to many; however the success is well attributed to capable teams of professionals and hours of brainstorming through old and new ideas.
In early May 2011, Lufthansa’s 7th A380 entered its giant fleet for daily service on the Frankfurt – San Francisco route. Promoting such a large aircraft might be hard for many airlines but not for the Germans. The challenge was the trouble of filling the world’s largest commercial jet – so they called for social media to gather interest and demand. There was another part of Lufthansa that wanted passengers to act on impulse, and buy tickets with the spur of the moment. To promote its A380 destinations in the USA – New York, San Francisco and Miami (from 10 June 2011 on) – Lufthansa has launched a Facebook campaign offering its virtual fans a real, tangible and cashable reward. Lufthansa called the campaign with a simple logic: A380 Thumbs Up/Fares Down.
Facebook members booked virtual flights on Lufthansa A380 flights from the USA to Frankfurt, and the more ‘likes’ their flight gets, the bigger the discount voucher.
How it works: Participants must ‘like’ Lufthansa on Facebook, submit a ‘virtual flight’ by selecting an origin and destination from Lufthansa’s timetable, get their Facebook friends to ‘like’ their virtual flight within a 24 hour time period that begins upon the submission of the virtual flight. Participants who create a virtual flight but receive less than 10 ‘likes’ on Facebook automatically receive a USD25 discount voucher, with the amount rising to USD50 with 10 to 29 ‘likes’, USD75 with 30 to 59 ‘likes’, while those who get 60 friends to like their A380 flight, receive a USD100 discount voucher. A maximum of 15,000 discount vouchers will be awarded in each denomination and a purchase is required to use the discount voucher.
The campaign was also promoted on the Lufthansa Twitter page.
The top two winners with the highest number of ‘likes’ to purchase the actual round trip ticket also received an one-way upgrade from Economy to Business Class. In addition to the two winners, another 25 passengers to receive the next highest number of ‘likes’ were awarded Lufthansa lounge passes worth USD35. The Lufthansa ‘Thumbs Up’ campaign ran within May 2011 and became one of the very creative and innovative social media campaigns of European Airlines.
Virtual media, but real rewards
For Lufthansa, the ‘Thumbs Up’ campaign is a nice way to increase the number of ‘fans’ of the airline on Facebook as a first step to start the online conversation. What is also interesting in this initiative is that Lufthansa is actually rewarding its Facebook fans that book a ticket with the airline to spread the word on Facebook. So Lufthansa not only sells more tickets to the actual A380 flights but also improved the online brand awareness and social media profitability. This campaign is also very valuable that the end results are directly measurable and tangible.
This act might even be used in social media marketing lectures as a very successful case study. I am looking forward to other Lufthansa social media applications.