Airline use of social media


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Social media is used in nearly every industry today, B2C and B2B. It is changing the marketing mix and the messaging style. This research looks at how social media is used among airlines. There is a multitude of advertising but a limited amount of selling going on.

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Airline use of social media

  1. 1. LET'S TALK: AIRLINES' USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA Kristian Hvass Center For Tourism and Culture Management Copenhagen Business School Copenhagen, Denmark [email_address] Air Transport Research Society Porto, Portugal July 2010
  3. 3. Mapping of social media use <ul><li>Recent development
  4. 4. Expanding to firms
  5. 5. Exploration of airline utilization of social media
  6. 6. Achieved by categorizing airline social media posts </li></ul>
  7. 7. Internet is a marketing tool... Marketing 2-way level communication Social process Continuous Marketing is a social process through which individuals fulfill their needs by creating and exchanging value with others Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., Saunders, J., Wong, V. 1996, Principles of Marketing
  8. 8. ...allowing users to generate content... Social Media Podcasts Messaging Wiki Apps Blogs Social media is that part of the Internet that enables users to contribute to developing, rating, collaborating, and distributing Internet content. Vickery, G., Wunsch-Vincent, S. 2007, Participative Web and User-Created Content
  9. 9. ...leading to shift in structure User Generated Content Information sharing Social software Enhances collaboration Command and control Engagement and empowerment
  10. 10. Categorization of sample set... <ul><li>Airline social media posts categorized according to promotional marketing mix (PMM)
  11. 11. 3 elements removed from original PMM (exhibitions, merchandising, and packaging)
  12. 12. 1 element added to adapted PMM (social activity) </li></ul>
  13. 13. ...using the Promotional Marketing Mix... UGC PMM Definition Advertising Product description or explanation, either airline’s initiative or as a response to a question Selling Link to purchase a product or service Sales promotion Description and/or link to promotions/partner companies affiliated with frequent flyer program Public relations Airline general response to a question not worded as an advertisement; providing general information; soliciting for contributions from customers; a challenge/game for customers Sponsorship Information about a sponsored event or initiative Direct mail Real-time or pertinent information to travelers Word-of-mouth Promoting content uploaded by other users Social activity Initiating a dialog without specific information about the company (e.g. wishing happy holidays) <ul><li>3 categories deleted from original PMM
  14. 14. 1 category (social activity) added </li></ul>
  15. 15. UGC PMM Example Advertising Just in case you hadn't heard already, we are having a massive global sale to a large range of destinations - Auckland, Fiji, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mumbai, London, Los Angeles, New York, London, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires and more. Limited availability. Happy Travels! (Qantas on Facebook) Selling So they say it's your birthday? Well it's our birthday too, yeah! Hurry - our birthday sale ends tonight @ 11:59pm PST! Click the link below to book: (Southwest Airlines on Facebook) Sales promotion Qantas Wallabies fans: Frequent Flyers can enter to win exclusive access to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Pre-Match Lounges at the Qantas Wallabies Bledisloe Cup Test home matches! (Qantas on Facebook) Public relations [Question of the day] - If my infant is at his 20th months now and I am considering to buy a flight in advance which is 6 months later. Can I book an Infant seat for him? Or should i buy an Adult seat? What do you think? (Air Asia on Facebook) Sponsorship Who's going to the #SFPride Parade? We're proud to be Official Airline of SF Pride! Come check out our float or watch for Sunday TwitPics. (Virgin America on Twitter) Direct mail SFO is experiencing high winds which are causing some long delays. Thx for your patience everyone. (Virgin America on Twitter) Word-of-mouth RT @MrReasonable Got to marvel at the skills of the pilots of @flyairnz getting those planes down in this weather (Air New Zealand on Twitter) Social activity @ AliciaWag you pooor thing .. how did you get the poison ivy? (Air New Zealand on Twitter)
  16. 16. …with data from social media platforms <ul><li>Facebook allows airlines to establish groups of which one can become a fan </li><ul><li>33 airlines present
  17. 17. November 2007 earliest post
  18. 18. 41,369 average # of fans
  19. 19. 10 posts average per 1000 fans (first post to Jan 2010) </li></ul><li>Twitter allows airlines to establish account which one can follow </li><ul><li>35 airlines present
  20. 20. May 2007 earliest tweet
  21. 21. 86,232 average # of followers
  22. 22. 65 tweets average per 1000 followers (first tweet to Jan 2010) </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Choosing of airlines... <ul><li>Choosing of airlines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Airlines ranked in ATW 2008 according to business model
  24. 24. Joined/followed airlines
  25. 25. Aggregated number of airline posts from August 2009 to January 2010
  26. 26. Airlines with lowest, average, most posts per business model per social media platform analyzed </li><ul><li>3 rd lowest FSC Twitter poster used </li></ul></ul></ul>
  27. 27. ...led to a diverse sample Facebook (FB) # FB posts 1 # FB fans* Twitter (TW) # TW posts 1 # TW followers* FSC Low Air Canada 9 12,251 SAS 30 1,490 Average Qantas 56 13,462 British Airways 299 21,644 High American Airlines 178 47,015 Air New Zealand 1252 11,987 LCC Low Air Berlin 15 5,550 Air Berlin 30 465 Average Frontier 122 5,379 Virgin America 384 1,966 High AirAsia 482 160,775 Southwest 1015 1,031,898 1 August 2009 – January 2010 * As of 25-2-2010
  28. 28. Overall characteristics... Formal Informal TONE Our cabin crew got a champagne shower on d podium by top 3 winners of Moto2. Hope d wind isnt blowin 2 strong or theyd be freezing #AAMotoGP - Air Asia on Twitter
  29. 29. Overall characteristics... Command & Control Interactivity AUTHORITY Nice pic, good luck in Vegas! RT @ JenCook : Landed in Vegas! Love me some @ southwestair ! Look- the grand canyon! - Southwest Airlines on Twitter
  30. 30. Overall characteristics... Opaque Transparent ANONYMITY
  31. 31. ...describe airline social media use... Internal External RECIPIENT Thanks to all VX teammates for helping raise funds for Haiti- we're matching you - Virgin America on Twitter
  32. 32. ...and show a failure to capitalize on potential of social media <ul><li>Content primarily </li><ul><li>Formal
  33. 33. Official
  34. 34. Authoritative </li></ul><li>Social activity posts more informal
  35. 35. Not capitalizing on relationship-building capabilities of platforms
  36. 36. Many airlines regard social media as Web 1.0 </li></ul>
  37. 37. Lack of interconnectivity <ul><li>Strong advertising focus with static content
  38. 38. Selling is not complementary function
  39. 39. Limited cross-platform use
  40. 40. Relationship-building content seen more on Twitter than Facebook
  41. 41. Time-sensitive information disseminated via both platforms </li></ul>
  42. 42. Facebook is for advertising... <ul><li>Little difference between FSC and LCC
  43. 43. Poor link between advertising and selling
  44. 44. Little use of platform for social activity
  45. 45. Direct mail content used by most active posting airlines </li></ul>
  46. 46. ...while Twitter is for relationships <ul><li>Disparity between FSC and LCC use
  47. 47. Strong focus on public relations and social activity
  48. 48. Content more informal in nature
  49. 49. Retweeting of others' tweets allows airlines to reinforce unbiased content or content not appropriate for airline to post themselves </li></ul>
  50. 50. To summarize... <ul><li>Increased airline use of social media
  51. 51. Prevalent formal and authoritative tone
  52. 52. Strong focus on advertising but not selling via Facebook
  53. 53. Lack of capitalization of platform capabilities
  54. 54. Social and relational activity prevalent via Twitter
  55. 55. Dynamic media </li></ul>
  56. 56. ...before the next step <ul><li>Consider alternative theoretical foundations
  57. 57. Increase sample size to allow generalizations
  58. 58. Integration of fans & followers posts
  59. 59. Expansion of platforms (e.g. blogs, YouTube, etc.)
  60. 60. Analyses of airline content on third-party platforms (e.g. TripAdvisor) </li></ul>