Content marketing cage match - The battle of the airline brands (King Content)


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Welcome to the first in King Content's series of content marketing cage matches!
One of the best ways to learn how to execute effective content marketing strategies is to examine what others are doing.
Join us as we soak up the mistakes and triumphs of major brands adapting to meet their increasingly savvy digital audiences.

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Content marketing cage match - The battle of the airline brands (King Content)

  1. 1. The battle of the airline brands.
  2. 2. Welcome to the first in our series of content marketing cage matches! One of the best ways to learn how to execute effective content marketing strategies is to examine what others are doing. Join us as we soak up the mistakes and triumphs of major brands adapting to meet their increasingly savvy digital audiences.
  3. 3. The battle of the airline brands. Vs.
  4. 4. Qantas - Australia’s largest and best-known airline. Virgin Australia - The young up-and-comer closing in on Qantas as Australia’s preferred carrier. One has almost 100 years of history, the other a celebrity entrepreneur for a founder. Both are strong and recognisable brands, but how are they performing in the online content marketing race for consumer engagement? Let’s find out. Introducing the airlines…
  5. 5. Blog Content Online blogs form the heart of most content marketing strategies. Blogs not only enable sustained communication through a shareable content format, but when progressively published they amass into a content hub or destination that provides cumulative value to both the brand and those accessing the content. So with travel blogs becoming one of the most frequently accessed content types on the web, let’s find out how our airlines are utilising their blogs to capture and engage the travel audience online.
  6. 6. Blog content
  7. 7. Blog content First up, Virgin! When you visit the Virgin Australia blog, a couple of things become immediately apparent: 1. It is neglected. 2. The content is being created and published without any kind of strategy. Virgin has only published 10 blog articles in the past 12 months. This is quite surprising considering Virgin Australia is one of the biggest airline brands in the country. This frequency not only demonstrates the lack of time and resources being put into the blog, but also the significance of content marketing in their overall marketing strategy. The blog clearly operates as an afterthought rather than a leading communication and engagement tool. But what’s the content like? Unfortunately, most of the blogs function like wordy PR press releases, introducing newly refurbished lounges or smartphone check-in options. And while it’s great to keep your audience up to date on company developments, the reality is that no one is going to subscribe or engage with a blog that churns out dull corporate PR. In short, Virgin Australia is missing out on a great opportunity to engage both local and international travellers with content.
  8. 8. Blog content
  9. 9. Blog content When it comes to blog content, Qantas’ Travel Insider certainly delivers more value to their readers than Virgin Australia. Their blog is updated regularly with editorially-driven articles on everything from restaurant and hotel reviews, to detailed city guides and insider tips on destinations. They also deliver this content in interesting series, like: Ask the concierge In these blogs, they interview concierges from hotels from around the world for their insider knowledge of cities. See example. One perfect day: These blogs offer an hour-by-hour plan of the ‘perfect day’ in major international cities. The detail provided is not only interesting, but super helpful! (I’ll be looking these up when I go on my next trip). See example. Featured City Guides - ‘The full Montevideo: Exploring the Uruguayan capital’ If you want to be inspired by a destination’s history, culture and attractions then read these guides. They contain a lot of detail – too much detail, in fact, to operate effectively with online attention spans. See example.
  10. 10. Blog content Which brings me to the major problem with the Qantas Travel Insider blog: It’s not actually a blog! Instead it’s repurposed print content from The Australian Way – the Qantas inflight magazine. Now I understand the value of repurposing content, especially content as interesting, helpful and engaging as that now featured on the Qantas blog, but while it may work for some formats (e.g. ‘Ask the Concierge’ and ‘One Perfect Day’) for others like the ‘City Guides’ and some of the ‘Where I stay’ posts, repurposing from print to online becomes clunky and disengages the audience. Seriously, how can you fluctuate from a four- sentence listing to a 4000-word feature article? Newsflash, Qantas! Online content marketing gives you the opportunity to communicate in a fresh and more immediate way. (Not on a month-to- month basis.) All in all, it’s fairly laughable that they’re only repurposing content designed and written for print, therefore missing the whole opportunity to effectively engage a much larger online audience with a new type of Qantas content experience.
  11. 11. The verdict? Qantas wins. Even though they seriously need to re-evaluate their content marketing strategy to utilise online-specific content, the Qantas Travel Insider blog still provides a lot of interesting, informative and helpful content for travellers. By providing this value to their online audience alongside appropriate calls to action, the Qantas blog is undoubtedly more effective than Virgin Australia’s, as they have successfully created a branded content hub that people return to for travel content, in turn building brand reputation and loyalty.
  12. 12. Video content As just about everyone is aware, video content is one of the most effective ways to engage online audiences. So let’s take a look at how Qantas and Virgin Australia are utilising this tactic online. First up, the numbers! Qantas Joined YouTube: 2006 Total videos: 204 Subscribers: 9831 Virgin Australia Joined YouTube: 2011 Total videos: 12 Subscribers: 1443 Because Virgin joined YouTube later, we thought it only fair to examine the videos published in the last 12 months. Videos published this year Virgin Australia = 5 videos Qantas = 64 videos It’s pretty clear from this year’s numbers alone that Qantas is investing much more time and resources into their video content, but quantity isn’t everything. Let’s take a closer look at the quality of the video content being produced.
  13. 13. Video content Unfortunately the majority of the Virgin Australia videos have a pure advertising/PR focus. This means they provide little or no value to the viewer. Prime example? The romance is back in the west Let’s face it – Richard Branson exiting a plane in an akubra hat and then shaking the hands of awaiting Virgin staff isn’t exactly enthralling stuff, even if he is an inspiring entrepreneur. While there are some glimmers of branded content potential in the ‘Behind the scenes’ videos and Wellington video, none of these were produced in the past 12 months. Like their blog content, Virgin Australia’s video content overall falls a little flat, failing to provide an already captive audience (1433 subscribers) with a compelling value proposition.
  14. 14. Video content With 64 (and counting) videos published this year, Qantas’ investment in video demonstrates a desire to connect with and engage online audiences. Qantas, like Virgin, has produced and uploaded a number of pure advertising videos, (e.g. Qantas Singapore Lounge). But, unlike Virgin, they have also taken the next step and invested in some branded video content that moves beyond the sales pitch to try to engage online audiences in contemporary ways. The Mane Event Challenge videos are the perfect example of Qantas branching out. Created in the lead-up to the 2013 British & Irish Lions rugby tour, this series of videos brought together four British & Lions supporters for a series of gruelling challenges against Australian rugby devotees. The videos, while a little silly, are definitely entertaining and only sparsely reference Qantas. This movement away from a pure ‘products and services’ offering and towards a valuable online content experience is also mirrored in the Atlas video featuring musician Daniel Johns.
  15. 15. The verdict? Qantas wins. Qantas wins ‘Best in show’ for video content, not because of the quantity they have produced but because they have made a sustained effort to connect with their online audience through video content that is not purely self-serving advertising.
  16. 16. Social media
  17. 17. Social media How are they populating their page? Facebook • On numbers alone, Qantas leads the pack with over 400,000 likes, a clear 100,000 ahead of Virgin. A comparison of their engagement rates also puts Qantas ahead of Virgin – 2.8 per cent versus 1 per cent. • With a larger following, Qantas’s decision to leverage off famous names and luxury in-flight services ensures their visually-driven posts are received well. Shared every couple of days, the content shapes a brand that displays exactly what they have on offer – big toys, big-name flyers and a definite association with the high end. • Virgin’s posts, often just text, definitely lack the Qantas allure. They are customised public service announcements – which have a place, as we will discuss later – but don’t appear to be attracting masses of new followers, or levels of engagement that rival the Qantas page.
  18. 18. Social media How are they populating their page? Twitter • There is an obviously large crossover between the Qantas Facebook content and Twitter content, so the channel is not necessarily used to its full capacity. • Qantas has one handle, while Virgin operates across two: @VirginAustralia and @VirginMobileAus. Virgin’s Twitter content - like their Facebook content - does predominantly focus on customer-service announcements, overlooking the opportunity to engage with their followers through original or creative branded content. The verdict on social media content? Qantas wins!
  19. 19. Social media Real time response strategies Facebook • Virgin’s objective is in stark contrast to Qantas, and what Virgin lacks in visual stimulation they make up for in personality and vibe. Virgin appreciates their consumer and opens their channel up to for communication with the consumer. With constant updates on flight delays, cancellations and customer directions, the page is definitely appreciated for its customer service. • Qantas lacks this human approach. Their content lacks a personal voice that speaks to their customer. Even the approach they use to field queries is often inflexible, missing the opportunity to shape a brand that is luxurious and driven by consumer satisfaction. • In light of the recent Qantas flight, where 26 passengers were hit with a gastro illness, it’s interesting to see no word of this on their Facebook page while it’s front-page news on, SMH, etc. Only last month Qantas committed another faux pas, failing to adequately monitor the posts made on their public page, leaving one nine-year-old boy very well versed in content of a pornographic nature. Qantas’s defence to the post was that it was made at night, meaning there was no one manning their social spaces out of office hours. Real-time posts mean real- time responses.
  20. 20. Social media Real time response strategies Twitter • Where the Qantas content does vary from Twitter to Facebook is their incorporation of customer service-esque posts. They use this channel to field public enquiries and infrequently issue statements (such as one referring to the gastro incident). • @VirginAustralia serves as a broadcast channel – making announcements about delays, cancellations, as well as content- driven posts. @VirginAusMobile is a port for enquiries received online, and seemingly operates around the clock. The verdict on real time response strategies? Virgin wins!
  21. 21. Final scores Category Winner Blog content Video content Social media content Social media response So who’s the airline grand champion of content marketing? Neither Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have things to learn from one another, whether that be the value of dedicated blog and video content production or the 24/7 social media customer service response that is now expected from online consumers. In reality, they both have a fair way to go before they could be considered on par with their international competitors. Airlines such as KLM show such dedication to content marketing that it rivals that of Coca-Cola and RedBull.
  22. 22. Wrapping up! Five content marketing lessons from Qantas and Virgin Australia 1. Don’t create a blog and then never post on it. 2. If you do post on your blog, don’t just reword a press release or copy and paste an article written for print. Instead, write something for your online readers. 3. Videos produced on their own merit – whether it’s to educate, entertain or inspire – are always more engaging than salesy videos highlighting ‘products’ and ‘features’. 4. Images are more effective than plain text when creating and sharing branded social media content. 5. Responding to customer service queries and providing real-time content is the only way to become a truly social brand. (Great job, Virgin Australia!)
  23. 23. Presented by King Content, Australia’s most-awarded digital content marketing agency. Check out our blog for more ideas, facts and advice. @King_Content