Airline Industry eBook: From Takeoff to Landing. How to Soar on the Social Web


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Airlines are upping their social media game and becoming increasingly present in online communities. Whether you are hoping to increase the number of passengers on board, provide an additional means of convenient customer service or be prepared to manage a crisis, you can leverage social media to make this plan a reality. In this airline specific eBook, From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web, Radian6 goes through the steps to discover and implement social media for your airline.

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Airline Industry eBook: From Takeoff to Landing. How to Soar on the Social Web

  1. 1. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCT 2011 / / 1 888 6radian The Airline Industry From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Copyright © 2011 - Radian6
  2. 2. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web The Airline Industry From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web AIRLINE INTRO CHAPTER 1: What is Social Media? Where did it start? Where do you start? CHAPTER 2: How do I get started in Social Media? Social Etiquette Social Sites CHAPTER 3: How do I train my staff for social media? CHAPTER 4: What does a Social Media Monitoring Platform do? CHAPTER 5: How do I start Listening? CHAPTER 6: How do I start Engaging? CHAPTER 7: How do I start to Measure, Analyze & Report? CHAPTER 8: What are the key social media opportunities for airlines? WHITE PAPER: Dear Radian6: Getting Started as an Airline Customer Service Team CASE STUDY: AIR CANADA Snow Storms and Social Media: How Air Canada Used Social Media To Help 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [2]
  3. 3. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Airline Intro This is your captain speaking. Welcome aboard Radian6 flight SM101. The skies are clear today, and the content is mighty fine. Please keep your electronic devices turned on and tuned in as we journey throughout this eBook together. Airlines are upping their social media game and becoming increasingly present in online communities. Millions of people fly every day for business or pleasure, and these travelers are empowered with choices. Of course, you want your brand to be the airline of choice more often than not, and a great social media strategy will help you soar above the competition. Whether you are hoping to increase the number of passengers on board, provide an additional means of convenient customer service or be prepared to manage a crisis, you can leverage social media to make this plan a reality and we are delighted to help you learn how. Or perhaps you would prefer to keep tabs on the competition, gather passenger data on demand in order to improve profits, or launch a social media loyalty event to coincide with your frequent flier program. No matter your social media goals, we can show you the possibilities. It is our hope that you ask yourself a few key questions while on board to truly make the most of the flight. How is your airline currently managing your social media presence? What strategy do you have in place currently? And how can you build upon your strategy? Surely there are many considerations to make regarding social media and your airline, and so as not to overwhelm you, we have compiled this eBook just for you. Regardless of whether or not you have a stratospheric plan in place presently, are looking to tweak your strategy or are just beginning to prepare to go social, it is our hope that you will find the inspiration you need here. So please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position, fasten your seatbelts and secure your belongings. The following announcement will ensure you and your airline are equipped for success in social media listening, monitoring and engagement. Along the way we will have a few layovers, stopping at places such as Social Media Etiquette, Social Media Monitoring Platforms, and Reporting. Prepare for takeoff! [3] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [3]
  4. 4. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web CHAPTER 1: What is Social Media? Where did it start? The use of computers in every day life has fundamentally changed how passengers and airlines alike, interact as a technologically advanced culture. In the business world we’ve seen memos transformed to email, conference calls morphed into virtual meetings and even sticky notes have gone digital. It’s no surprise that all these shifts to digital have affected the way we do business, and do our jobs. Just as the amount of information we we’re able to access has increased exponentially since the dawn of the Internet, our personal and professional connectivity has increased significantly since the introduction of social networking. One of the first social networking sites was It was ahead of its time with the common features for social networking sites - profiles, connections, sharing. SixDegrees brought together common features for social networking sites including allowing users to create profiles that reflected their personal information, create connections with known people or new people met virtually and also a way of sharing information. Over time these sites grew and started to expand not just in what they offered to their users but also in to covering other forms of expressions by expanding to include blog, video & image sites updated by users. Despite the different forms, the common threads of being able to build connections, share information and learn from others remained strong. The onset of companies using social sites for marketing and advertising as well as client care and feedback is what transformed social networking from a personal focused method of connecting with others into the business oriented use of Social Media, a use that can be closely tied to the concept of Word of Mouth Marketing. The social web is fundamentally changing the practice and culture of how airlines do business. It’s shifted how airlines communicate within their own walls, and how they communicate with customers. It has also given air passengers a voice and a platform for feedback, opinion, discussion, and collaboration that has never quite been seen before. Where do you start? Your airline may already have a social media strategy of some kind, even if it’s simply to monitor. Maybe you were prepared when your boss said it was time to get serious about social media. Maybe you’re still waiting for that conversation to take place. Regardless of where you are, you’re probably full of questions. What do you do to tie your social media activities to your bottom line objectives? How can you make sure your social media presence is as effective as possible and helping you reach your goals? Step 1? Breathe! Let’s start or refresh your social media journey by talking about how you can get started using common social media platforms and the etiquette that goes along with it. [4] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [4]
  5. 5. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web CHAPTER 2: How do I use Social Media effectively? Social media now covers a variety of sites and information with new avenues being created daily. It can be a lot to take in, so before we discuss how to use these from a business perspective for an airline, let’s spend some time making sure that you are comfortable with how to use these platforms and the etiquette that goes along with online engagement. Social Etiquette Before you start to look at the social networks, think about online etiquette. It will help you to make your experience even more successful. For starters, we probably all remember that big poster board from elementary school listing the rules for proper etiquette in the classroom: “We say please and thank you” “We use our indoor voices” “We treat others they way we would like to be treated” These were posted as reminders and were referenced whenever we fell off track. In terms of etiquette, not much changes over the course of our lives. Being polite and respectful to others is still Social Etiquette 101. Having proper etiquette on the social web means being aware of your audience, understanding how they communicate and being a valuable, welcome and positive contributor to the community. There are several benefits to proper social etiquette and unlike kindergarten, they amount to more than simply avoiding that playmate who squished scented markers on your face. There are three main points to keep in mind to exhibit proper etiquette. They are: • Reciprocation - It’s above give and take. A good rule of thumb is to promote others three times as much (or more!) than you promote yourself. • Respect - Add value and be helpful and others will treat you with respect. People want to interact with and buy from companies that treat them with respect. • Reliability - Since social networks, for the most part, are public, always put reliability in the forefront, whether you’re an individual or a business. Now that you have the three points, how do you execute them? Think back to those elementary roots. • Join conversations because you’re interested in the subject matter or because you have something beneficial to add – not because you have an agenda or want to push your material and advertise your airline. • Saying hello when you jump online is a nice way to start your daily time online and encourage conversation. Saying goodbye at the end of your time online lets people know when you’re heading offline. No one likes to be left hanging in the middle of a conversation. If you do this consistently, your community will come to know when they can expect you to be available. [5] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [5]
  6. 6. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web • Introduce yourself and introduce others. Anytime you friend, follow or engage with people who may not know you, it is always a good idea to introduce yourself and share some of the basics like who you are and where you are from. • Say please and thank you. If you want to share someones content, ask politely. If someone has shared yours be sure to thank them whenever possible. Though you may not be able to respond to every comment on your blog or Facebook page, you can take a moment to respond to a few and perhaps make a general statement thanking everyone who shared your content. • If your social circle online is a large one, there are probably people in it that you don’t know as well as others or not at all. Review your friends/follower lists frequently. Set some time aside each week to manage your following/follower ratio. It’s ok to step outside your comfort zone and expand your horizons when it comes to connecting. Not everyone you connect with has to be like-minded. Diversity breeds inspiration. The Three Ds Whether you are using social media for personal or professional purposes, take some time to familiarize yourself with The Three Ds. Remembering what they stand for, and the examples below, should help you steer clear of potentially disastrous situations. • Disclosure - Steer clear of disclosing trade secrets or intellectual property. This could cost you your job and give your competitors an unfair advantage. • Defamation - Do not make statements about someone that are false and could potentially cause economic consequences. • Discrimination - It should go without saying to not to be discriminatory. Remember, the social web is a public place so your voice is amplified. These are just a few quick tips, for more detailed and in depth looks at proper social media etiquette across platforms check out these great posts: An Insider’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette - Chris Brogan The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook - Tamera Weinberg Do we Need to Revisit our Settings for Trust and Transparency? - Valeria Maltoni Social Sites Once you feel comfortable with how you will be speaking on social sites, you’ll need to know a little more about the sites themselves and how to use each one. Let’s cover some of the major sites you’ll encounter and how to use them. Twitter If you’re already on Twitter, you know it’s more than just talking about what people have for breakfast. It’s more like “conference call IM.” Link sharing, conversation, personal connections that break the ice before in-person meetings, professional networking...In many ways, its become the equivalent to having another phone on your desk, in a different form. [6] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [6]
  7. 7. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web If you’re just getting started on Twitter, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed and looking for a few ways to help optimize your experience. Here’s a few things to keep in mind. • When setting it up, use your real name and a profile picture, or include the real names of the real people who are tweeting behind your airline’s twitter handle. It lets your followers know that there’s a real person(s) behind the profile. Build your bio the way you’d introduce yourself or your airline in person. • To get the ball rolling, search Twitter for people you know by entering their name and plug in topics that interest you and see who’s talking about them. As you get more followers, check out who they follow and connect to others they converse with on Twitter. That’s the most organic way to build your network. • Treat Twitter like a conversation. Start with 30 minutes, twice a day. The best way to build relationships and a community on Twitter: participate. Spend some time sitting back and listening, then join the conversation. Jump on in, say hello. LinkedIn LinkedIn is the virtualized and interactive version of that pile of business cards on your desk. True, it’s home to your online “resume,” but it’s also a mechanism to both demonstrate your expertise and share in the expertise of others, make business connections, and help connect others in your network with each other. So here’s our down-and-dirty guidebook for LinkedIn and a handful of tips. • Use a real photo. The real you. • Share your goals more than your daily tasks. Focus on what makes you and your abilities different from the next person with your same title. • Are you a blogger by night? A speaker in your own time? Share that too! • Connect! Find connections, request them and watch your network grow. • Ask for recommendations from those who know your work, and display them on your profile. Offer to write recommendations for those whose work you’re familiar with. • Join the conversation! Check the LinkedIn Answers section for opportunities to lend your expertise to questions in your field. Join relevant groups and contribute with content and conversations. Facebook Often more of a personal social network than a business one, there’s no denying Facebook’s reach and popularity, and it can be a comfortable way to get acquainted with what it means to participate in social networks. • Remember: Social networks are searchable, and you just never know who might come knocking at your virtual door. Use a picture that you’d be proud to show off in public. Set privacy settings to ensure the public sees what you want it to see. • Some people prefer to keep their connections to people they know personally. Check in once a day or so to catch up with friend requests and peek at the “people you may know” sidebar, just to see who’s lurking out there that you should say hello to. [7] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [7]
  8. 8. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web • Facebook has a lot of applications. Choose wisely as they are a reflection of you and how you spend your time. • If you’re thinking of starting a group, this is where business can make good use of Facebook. But Facebook groups need to be nurtured and tended by the people who build them. Group members are looking for dialogue, interaction, and discussion. As an airline, consider taking your group discussion a level above your brand, and giving your fans, friends and loyal passengers some meaty topics to digest and discuss. Blogging Blogging is such a ubiquitous form of media today, but people are still incredibly intimidated about getting started with one. Is blogging something your airline should do? That answer will vary from airline to airline. Do you have something to say? Do you want to share thoughts, interests, ideas? Are you interested in others weighing in on what you have to say? • Our getting-started philosophy: learn on the job. There’s no better way to learn about blogging than to immerse yourself in it. • The very best way to learn about blogging is to read. Read lots of blogs, both inside and outside your interest area. Pay special attention to things like tone, writing style, and how writers break up the content. Try Google Reader to aggregate your blogs and make it easier to organize them. • Begin commenting on blogs. Share your voice; the authors want to hear from you - it’s part of their validation that they’re writing something of interest. It’s okay to not have all the answers. Ready to start writing? • Set a goal, such as three posts a week. They don’t have to be mammoth, and at first, just worry about getting comfortable with the medium. Talk about what you know. Write to share something valuable with others in your community, and serve as a discussion hub and a resource. Get feedback and ideas from across your airline’s organization. • Scribble down post ideas when you have them. Starting post drafts and save them unfinished. You can always come back to them later when inspiration strikes. If you get a burst of writing done, schedule your posts in advance. • Share. Ask questions. Get people talking. You’re a conversation catalyst. • Staying plugged into the comments on your blog is important. Commenters like to know that you’re listening and paying attention to their contributions. How often and how deeply you respond is up to you, but comments are an important part of the blog ecosystem, so find a way to engage. • Link out to the posts that may have inspired your writing. Point your readers to more resources relevant to your topic. Disclose relationships you have that may have bearing on the opinions you write about (most especially if you’re being paid to do so; it’s the law now). If you’re including other people’s work, make sure to attribute it. Once you’ve got a handled on the different sites yourself you may be wondering how you can start to train your staff to use social media both for their personal use & for your airline’s purposes. Let’s soar in to training! [8] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [8]
  9. 9. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web CHAPTER 3: How do I train my staff for social media? Training your staff on how to use social media can be a daunting task. Since social networking and the concept of social business is so new, many people entrenched in the world of airlines are still learning how they can best use the medium. When you start thinking about training your staff, you may notice that their experience falls in to the following areas. Digital Native: They’ve grown up in a highly digital world being very comfortable with using online platforms and learning new ones. Savvy Technologist: While not having grown up with them, they feel comfortable using most online social platforms and digital tools. These people approach new platforms with caution and often let others fumble around before joining in. Reluctant User: They are aware of the digital world and social media but hesitates to explore and dive into the digital space. They do not think about or use digital tools more than necessary and generally resist incorporating those tools into their lives. Digital Contrarian: They are averse to the digital world. They’ve probably heard of social networking but they think it’s a bunch of piffle, and they’ll use email only for work purposes and rarely in their personal lives. These folks prefer traditional methods like phone calls. Digital Newbie: Unlike the digital contrarian, the digital newbie isn’t opposed to the digital world so much as they are simply unaware of it. Their life and day-to-day activities go on just fine without any digital intervention, and they don’t see the need to change their habits or behaviors. Knowing that all these different digital archetypes exists within your organization is an important step. Even though not all of them may be as excited or involved in your social media process, they should all at least have the overall understanding so they feel comfortable with the space. This will help when you start building the framework of your training program. Training Program Prep and Framework When starting to plan your training framework you can go one of two ways. You can involve your staff in the initial discussions to get their input on how they would like to use social media and their current understandings of the space or you can keep all those initial discussions to your management team. Either way, talking through your strategy first is the right place to start. With these discussions you’ll want to establish a few different things: • Who within each team is going to be using social media • If there will be a single point person to oversee department social media activities or if everyone will have a fairly even distribution of tasks • Which social media tasks each team has been assigned to perform, or which tasks you believe they should be performing [9] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [9]
  10. 10. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web • The social media comprehension levels of all team members (not just general use, but understanding of how social media can be applied in business settings crossing various departments within your airline) The findings you glean from these meetings should give you a clear view of the various user levels you must accommodate, as well inform you as to what sorts of conversations have already happened around the airline’s social media initiatives and how people are feeling about those plans. So, you’ve gathered all the information you can about the current levels of social media adoption and understanding within your airline, and now is the time to use that information to your advantage. The folks within your organization who are enthusiastic about social media and “get it” could be a great help in planning and helping this training program take flight. Social Media Training Team Create a cross-functional social media training team that can act as a both a point of contact for coordinating training course attendance and employee benchmarking, and as a resource to answer questions and provide constructive feedback. They can - and should - tweak the training program as necessary. When the time finally comes to begin building your training program, you’ll need to make sure it includes these things: • Clearly stated purposes for why the airline is adopting social media and why a training program is in place • Clear goals and measurable objectives for each piece of the program • Different course levels to account for different levels of adoption as well as create multiple opportunities for achievement and break the process into easily digestible mental bites • Tactical how-to training, as well as conceptual training and example scenarios • Testing or benchmarking to gauge the progress of employees as they move through the program • A review process for assessing the effectiveness of the program Developing a successful team takes planning and training but in the end, you’ll have a solid foundation and a group of rockstars to create great social strategies. While the people are crucial, so is technology. A social media monitoring platform is a tool your rockstars can utilize on a daily basis. So let’s take a deeper look at this technology in the next chapter. [ 10 ] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 10 ]
  11. 11. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web CHAPTER 4: What does a Social Media Monitoring Platform do? Social media listening, tracking, monitoring and engagement tools allow airlines such as yours, to successfully employ a social media strategy and understand the impact the Social Graph and Social CRM have on their success. This enables organizations to become Socially Engaged Enterprises, with the power to understand and gain insights about social media through metrics, measurement, sentiment and analytics reporting. Social Media Monitoring A social media monitoring and engagement platform, such as Radian6, allows you to view relevant conversations happening around your brand and products in real time. This aggregation of data ensures you are gleaning the most relevant information from your online conversations, and have the ability to share important reports with those who need them most. Social Media Monitoring is beneficial for not only discovering public sentiment surrounding your airline, but can also be used when dealing with crisis situations, to benchmark your competitors or even to generate interest from new passenger, helping you to fill ALL of the seats on the plane. When used effectively, social media monitoring can help you reach out to a whole new audience, and enhance your online profile. How does this sync up with Social Media Marketing? With the rise of the social web, social media marketing is changing the face of how you interact with your passengers. Instead of your clients clamouring for your attention, it’s up to you to reach out to them. Take your messaging to where they’re gathering most – the social web. Make the switch from traditional marketing to a format that allows for increased interaction with your passengers, ensuring you’re engaging with them at the point of need. Adapt content and messaging based on what people are talking about on the social web. Monitor public sentiment to gain a better understanding of how your latest campaign is faring in the marketplace. Once you’ve harnessed the potential of the social web, your options are almost limitless. Social Media Strategy For any organization, the key to a successful social media strategy is to tie it to your existing business objectives, and your existing sales, marketing, customer service and other strategies. An effective social media strategy can mean the difference between successfully nurturing online relationships with your passengers and missing out on opportunities for outreach. Your social media strategy should cover the guidelines you need to best interact with your consumers on the social web. From the frequency of your posts, to how to handle negative feedback, your social media strategy will ensure that you’re not only connecting with followers, but that you’re being consistent and engaging during these interactions. [ 11 ] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 11 ]
  12. 12. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web An effective social media strategy not only allows you to engage on the social web, but also works to enhance your online profile for those who might not already be connecting with you. A social media monitoring platform can help you with this process. It addresses these key steps of the process: • Scaling your mountain of content. These platforms cull through content based on a number of algorithms so you don’t have to! • Tracking trends. Over time, you’ll start to see trends emerge as you view the data. • Lightening your load when it comes to reporting. Platforms can aggregate your data so you can simply pull the information you need. • Getting information to those who need it most. Log in and grab the data - it’s that easy. You can often segment by different user settings or admin rights. Social media monitoring platforms provide the opportunity to get to know your community inside and out – because when you’ve got an indicator of their past preferences, you’re better suited to give them a richer experience in the future. The discovery process gives you a deep dive into many areas, including who is the most influential in conversations surrounding your airline. These loyal supporters are instrumental in spreading your message even further throughout the social web. As we’ll discuss in the next few chapters, a strong social strategy starts with listening and extends through engagement. • Listening - Get tuned into all of the important conversations surrounding your airline, the air transportation industry and your competitors. • Engaging - This could be reaching out to your customers or using their feedback to enhance your services. Either way, you’re part of the conversation. • Measuring, analyzing & reporting - Once the conversations start rolling in, you’ll want to start measuring your results. Tracking discussions will help enhance your social media strategy, and get you to the bottom of what’s being said. Let’s take a deeper look at these steps. CHAPTER 5: How do I start Listening? Once you and your staff are trained on what social media is and the platforms that can be used for your airline, it’s important to understand the potential impact all of that information could have on your work. Listening – or social media monitoring – is the notion of searching for the key words and phrases being used online to hear what’s being talked about. It’s about homing in on the data, conversations, dialogue, and other bits of information that are relevant to your brand. From the people talking [ 12 ] 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 12 ]
  13. 13. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web specifically about YOU, to people talking about the air travel industry or even your competitors, listening is about harnessing the conversations that matter to your business, and extracting the information that helps you decide how, where, and when to engage with your community. Listening: The Ws Why Listening is Important: A sound listening strategy forms the cornerstone of a sustainable, scalable social media strategy. It helps you understand what’s being said, where it’s happening, what kind of volume you’re dealing with, and where on the social media presence curve you sit as a company. Consider this the initial research phase of your work to get a lay of the land, and an ongoing temperature gauge that helps you adjust your continued activities. What to Listen For: As you start with a monitoring program, the potential can be overwhelming. So much information, so many sites, and all of it moving by at the speed of light. Start with a tiered system that takes you from brand-centered listening, to competitive listening, to industry-wide listening (some more specifics on these are below). Within those categories, you can organize and prioritize those conversations by classifying them into relevant buckets, like: • Complaints • Compliments • Questions • Leads and Inquiries • Opportunity Conversations Where to listen: The answer to this question is different for every airline. The important place to start is casting the net wide, using a tool or set of tools that will help you sweep the entirety of the social web to help you find the conversations that matter to you. As you sort through the posts and discussions you find, you’ll be able to sort out where the relevant discussions are happening, and what media types you need to pay attention to. Although, they are the primary social media sources for the airline industry, social media isn’t just about Twitter and Facebook. It’s about the function of social communication online, which is to more easily share, create, and contribute to content. That means that for some industries, it’s still forums and message boards. For some, it’s LinkedIn or niche online communities. For some, it’s blogs. The searches you undertake as part of your listening program will help you focus your efforts, uncover the concentrations of discussion and dialogue, and help you understand where you should be spending your time and effort to engage the communities you care about. Who Should do it: As you embark on a listening program, the first question is often “So, who’s responsible for doing this?” To answer that question, you need to ask 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 13 ]
  14. 14. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web • What’s the central focus of our social media participation? Customer service? Marketing? Product ideas? • Do we have dedicated human resources for this, or does it have to be part of an existing role? • Is there someone on our team already interested in this? Front-line listening as part of a “listening grid” – a workflow and system of routing and sharing the intelligence gathered from a monitoring program – can be a dedicated role, or part of many. But at it’s best, listening is wired into many roles and functions in an organization. Much like having a telephone on every person’s desk, equipping employees and departments with their own listening tools and stations means that they can integrate social media information and intelligence into the work they’re already doing. They can use the tools in the ways that support their jobs, and treat social media as a new phone, a new line of communication from your airline to the outside world and back again. Listening: The How So, brass tacks time. How, exactly, do we build listening programs in all of the right buckets? What do we search for? Brand: In the brand bucket, you’ll want to concentrate your searches around terms, words, and phrases that are directly related to your airline. You can go broad or narrow, but in general, you’ll want to develop a stack of keywords and phrases that reflect: • Your company name • Your brands, business units, or product offerings • Names of specialized services you offer such as rewards programs • Names or terms around specific campaigns • Key stakeholders in your organization • Nicknames, abbreviations, or misspellings of any of the above The general thread here is that it’s the terms that will help you understand whether people are talking about you or not. If they’re not, that’s intelligence in itself. If they are, you’ll want to know if it’s positive, critical, or indifferent, as all of those things will help frame your future strategy. Industry: Industry listening is proactive. It’s intended to help you understand the larger landscape that surrounds your airline, the conversations that are above and around your brand. It’s not about you, but rather understanding how you might fit into the larger profile of your industry on the social web. Here, you might search for: • Terms related to airlines and air travel that are not brand specific • Phrases that define the markets you serve • Larger industry keywords or categories • Professional organizations you belong to or that fit your business profile • Names of thought leaders in the airline 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 14 ]
  15. 15. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web By listening, you can learn about overarching perceptions of your markets or your business purpose. And you can identify and locate conversations that aren’t about your company, but where you can engage and communicate expertise, meet new people, and establish your online presence as a resource and authority without a focus on sales or marketing. Competitors: Competitive intelligence used to be limited to expensive, paid reports from business intelligence companies, or whatever information you could glean through your network of acquaintances, friends, and contacts. The social web has brought a new dimension to competitive analysis, and put a wealth of information out there to find. You can look for: • Names of competitive airlines, brands, products, and services • Stakeholders in those companies • Buzz around competitive campaigns or promotions • Nicknames, misspellings, or the like of any of these What can you learn here? If folks are talking online, they’re sharing information about your competition. Who they’re hiring, who’s recently left. What new product they’re coming out with. They’re communicating what your competition isn’t doing, which presents all sorts of opportunities for you. And it can pinpoint emerging crises or buzz swells that you might want to be aware of for your own purposes. The same unfiltered, fast moving and open information that’s out there about YOU is out there about THEM. It can be awfully worthwhile to pay attention. Your listening program will set the tone for the rest of your social media activities, so it’s imperative you take the time to fine tune each piece of it to ensure you’re listening in the places that are most relevant to your airline and to the conversations that have the most potential impact. Once you’ve got this part of your strategy solidified, it’s time to tackle engagement. CHAPTER 6: How do I start Engaging? Engagement is often seen as the “holy grail” result of a listening and monitoring program. For many airlines, it’s a natural evolution, but for some, it can be a bit more complicated. Engagement has become a hot-button term for something that really is more fundamental in its marketing need: Gaining and holding the attention of passengers and prospects through regular airline-to- community interaction. According to, to engage is: “To occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons).” In the context of social media, engagement usually means talking directly with your target audience, but the method and depth of engagement is individual for each company. Engagement becomes a bit less fluffy when you remove the “buzz” aspect of the term and remember that this is what you, as a business, have been aiming for all along: If you get someone engaged with the messages you’re putting out there, they’ll buy what you’re selling, and, if you’ve done it right, come back for 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 15 ]
  16. 16. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Engagement: The Ws The social web has made it easy for people to share their opinions about everything on a mass scale, making it harder for brands to break through those opinions and stand on their own two feet. In the best cases of online sharing, brands are being stewarded by their loyal fans and long-time customers; in the worst cases, airlines are losing business because people are sharing negative opinions that are deterring possible prospects from taking that next step and buying. Most of those negative cases can be turned positive if the airlines would only take steps to show they care about their customers’ and prospects’ experiences with them. That can be done through direct interaction, acting on customer feedback collected either passively or actively, or making sure the purchasing cycle for people is as easy and positive as possible. What to say: “What do we say?” is often the hardest question to answer, largely due to the fear that letting people speak on behalf of your brand could create problems like mixed messages, the spreading of inaccurate information, or even legal issues. There are basic comments you can make, though, to reassure people you’re listening to them without causing problems for your brand, including: • We’re sorry. • Thank you. • How can we help? • We’re listening and we hear you. Despite common fears about responding to negative comments, addressing those mentions openly with an eye to calming the issue can turn a potentially sour situation into an opportunity to create a loyal brand fan, much like what your support team members do on a daily basis, but via social channels. Where to engage: Figuring out where you should be engaging starts with looking at where your audience currently exists. Your audience will appear in a few places to start, or perhaps many if your business is inherently social, and you’ll be able to identify exactly where that audience is through your listening strategy. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t put effort or resources into interacting on big social networks if that’s not where your audience happens to be. Software companies, for example, are often mentioned on support forums or communities, thus showing a much larger portion of customer activity than, say, Facebook. Just because certain social networks are more popular than others – or even more popular than other types of media – doesn’t mean your market is there. Do your research before you commit to engaging on a particular network. The audience of one airline may in fact not be frequenting all of the same social networks as the fans from another airline, for example. Who (internally) should engage and who you should engage with: There’s a good chance some of your workforce is already out there on the social web talking with your customers. Identify these folks, not to make examples of their behavior, but to bring them into the fold and gain an understanding of how and why they choose to interact online. 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 16 ]
  17. 17. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web their passion, feedback, and buy-in, and work with them to create a more structured and effective engagement strategy. Depending on your goals for social media involvement, you might want to engage with a few different types of people, including: • Passengers with inquiries in need of support • Brand evangelists • Brand detractors • Airline industry veterans and influencers You might want to start interacting with just one group to gauge what kind of time and resources your engagement strategy will require to succeed, and add more groups when you feel you’re ready and able. Engagement: The How So, how do we build a solid engagement strategy? How do we start talking? Brand: When it comes to speaking on behalf of your brand, the possibilities for engagement are seemingly endless. From saying thank you for a positive mention to calming down an angry passenger who’s thinking of switching airlines, the one thing to remember is there is no right, industry-standard way to engage – the “right” type of engagement for you is defined by the goals you set for your social media program. Don’t leave your team hanging, though. Establish guidelines for engagement that give those engaging on the frontlines enough freedom to be themselves while still properly representing your airline. Industry Getting involved in the conversation surrounding the airline industry is essential for establishing your brand as not only a thought leader but also as a helpful airline that truly cares about its community. At the end of the day, you’re providing a service that solves a deep human problem, and sharing your knowledge about how to solve that problem – outside of selling people on your airline – will create trust in your customers. You’ll want to spend a certain amount of time being reactive to your community first, catching up with their direct mentions of you before delving into industry discussions. But when you’re ready, creating and adding to conversation threads will provide a wealth of perspective to both your airline and community. Some conversations you might want to get involved in include: • General questions about the services and special campaigns your airline offers. • Requests for opinions on a subject matter your airline can share expertise in. • Detracting commentary about why a service you provide is not useful. • Conversations about specific professional roles, where team members can grow their own 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 17 ]
  18. 18. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Competitors Competitive engagement isn’t about interjecting yourself into conversations about your competitors carte blanche. It can be useful to help you highlight points of differentiation, though, and it allows you to reach out to people interested in air travel when it naturally makes sense. Competitive engagement can also be used to stay on top of industry happenings like mergers and acquisitions, as well as help protect and build your airline through ongoing interaction with people who mention you as well as your competitors. Many would say that engagement is the most important aspect of a social media strategy – it gives you the chance to get involved with your passengers, potential passengers, and greater industry community in ways that weren’t previously available via traditional business communication channels. From market research to community assistance, engagement gets you tuned into what your market really needs from an airline like yours, and allows you to build relationships that carry into repeat business and referrals, and those are the ultimate successes. Now that you’re listening and engaging in conversations on the social web, you’re probably becoming interested in really tracking what’s being said. Maybe you’re even ready to work some of your results into your social media strategy. Although the idea of tracking millions of conversations can be daunting, the next chapter is here to help. CHAPTER 7: How do I start to Measure, Analyze & Report? Just as flying a plane requires many instruments to succeed in arriving at your destination on time, you’re going to need to chart your course to define the objectives/key performance metrics that will show you if you’re really making the most of the social web (as it relates to your goals, of course). To get where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been and where you want to be, and this is where that charted course comes in handy. Measurement: The Ws Measuring the progress of your social media program isn’t an option – it’s a business necessity. Social media is a business channel just like direct mail and other traditional communication and marketing channels, but unlike many traditional methods, social media unlocks the door to instantaneous, two- way dialog, creating a new level of necessary measurement. While traditional metrics still matter, it’s essential that you select highly relevant and measurable objectives specific to your social media program to make sure your efforts are indeed providing strategic and financial value. What to Measure: Familiar with the phrase, “You are what you eat?” This holds true with social media: Define your KPIs carefully here, because you will become what you measure. Understand what your brand wants to accomplish and what market you want to target to determine what metrics are actually relevant to 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 18 ]
  19. 19. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web It’s important you establish both qualitative and quantitative measurements for your goals, too, because both matter in providing a holistic view of the progress of your social media program. And while you’re at it, don’t settle for measuring only outputs and outtakes, either. Impact, especially in terms of ROI, is determined by measuring outcomes (the quantifiable changes in attitude, behavior and opinion). If you only measure superficial results such as number of followers or fans, your social media and engagement strategy will also remain at that level. Here are some metrics to help you brainstorm what you might want to measure and why: Revenue and Business Development • Number Per cent of Repeat Business • % Customer Retention • Transaction Value • Referrals • Net New Leads • Cost Per Lead • Conversions from Community Activity and Engagement • Members • Posts/Threads • Comments or Ideas • Inbound Links • Tags, Votes, Bookmarks • Active Profiles • Referrals • Post Frequency/Density Cost Savings • Issue Resolution Time • % of Issues Resolved Online • Account Turnover • Employee Turnover • Hiring/Recruiting • Training Costs • New Product Ideas • Development Cycle Time • Product/Service Adoption Rate Value Awareness and Influence • Brand Loyalty/Affinity • Media Placements • Share of Conversation • Sentiment of Posts • Net Promoter Score • Interaction with Content • Employee Social 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 19 ]
  20. 20. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web How to Measure: Go beyond measuring traditional web analytics that provide data about channel use and begin layering onto those metrics those that explore audience behavior and engagement found within social media analytics. Having a hypothesis to start from will help you pinpoint which beyond- the-traditional metrics you should be tracking. For instance, “We think that an increase in blog subscribers over six months will correlate with an increase in passengers on board our international flights,” or, “Post activity on our help forum will decrease call center costs,” are strong hypotheses to get started measuring and benchmarking. Build your goals and objectives based on these hypotheses, and measure against them to see if you’re on the right track. The beauty about setting a baseline with your hypotheses is that you have a roadmap to follow to keep you on track; you’ll know exactly where you stand at all times, and can course correct in real-time as you track changes in the level of content and customer engagement. Brand Measuring engagement around your brand can help you understand if your messages are resonating with your intended community, or whether there’s a disconnect between how your airline is presenting itself and how your community is perceiving you. • To gain insight on just how well your brand is being reflected on the social web, begin measuring: • Reverberation: The total volume of inbound linking and generations of retweeting of a post. • Repetition: The average times per month a source inbound links/retweets your content. • Activation: The monthly total of new sources that have shared your positive content. • Engagement: The amount of repeat commenting and length of those comments. Industry Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry to spot emerging trends and topics of interest that help you drive content creation or product and service improvements and ideas. By tracking the trends of your industry you’ll also be able to find out who key players are and get early insights into the new voices in the industry, and you can apply all these insights to help mold your outreach, engagement, and future business strategies. To see which sorts of topics and issues are gaining traction in the airline industry, begin measuring: • Exuberance: The monthly count of twestimonials and positive posts. • Attention Span: The average span of time a post is commented on and retweeted. • Resonance: The total volume of “in sync” conversation around an idea. • Potential: The monthly comparison of declared need and estimated revenue from successful referrals. Competitors Competitive intelligence can clue you in to rumors and insights about your competitors’ business moves, how their customers and passengers are perceiving them, and help you identify unmet needs of the crowds. That information will also help you establish if you’re ahead of the social media game, behind the curve, or somewhere in the middle. Benchmarking your competition on the social web can help you clarify how your social strategy should emerge and evolve, 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 20 ]
  21. 21. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web To get a handle on how you’re comparing in the competitive landscape, begin measuring: • Conversation: The total monthly relative share of conversation versus competitors. • Infatuation: The score of the relative direction of inbound and outbound links/tweets between sources. • Bucket Volume: The monthly count comparison of post types (i.e., complaints, referrals, etc.). Measurement as a practice should already be wired into your organization – if it’s not, take the time to figure out why that’s the case and how you can remedy that situation before embarking on your journey into social media. The most important truth to keep in mind about measuring any business initiative, be it social media or a traditional marketing/customer service/sales program, is that the metrics you select to track your progress must relate directly to your goals; there is no template or best way to measure anything, but the information we’ve shared here should get you started brainstorming which metrics make the most sense for tracking your social media program. Analysis Defining the measurement that you are going to use for your social media program can be different from the stage where you are analyzing those results against your business objectives. The thing to keep in mind is that analysis takes time and you’ll need to benefit from some others who are already doing great work in the space. Share the Knowledge We’re not talking about exposing internally sensitive or trademarked information here, but rather methods and metrics that have been found to work well in the social space. If we are sharing this information we can start to learn from each other in a collaborative environment. Collaboration could be done through conferences, white papers or councils. Perhaps you have an idea for a Twitter chat for collaborating ideas? Check first to see if it already exists, and if not, be the leader! Try, Try Again There will be metrics and methods used that will seem very promising but at the end of the day they just won’t work in the social space. Instead of getting frustrated with these, we need be able to take an objective view to discuss what works, what doesn’t work and where to go from there. If you want to see this in action, just take a look at the search engine results for “What is Social Media ROI?”. Just a few examples of articles discussing this topic are: Social Media ROI for Idiots, 2011 Trending Topic: Social Media ROI, How to Measure Social Media ROI. Believe in the Integrity of the Data Data doesn’t lie, but it can be misinterpreted. Make sure that no matter what you’re doing, you are letting the data speak for itself. Draw insights from your data but don’t force the data to say anything that isn’t there. Sometimes as much as we want 1+1 to equal 3, it just isn’t meant to be. Reporting Something to keep in mind is that at some point in your social media journey you may need to create a report that shows how your efforts are doing. Don’t look at this as a daunting task, instead think of something in life that we are all very familiar with and able to read, a report 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 21 ]
  22. 22. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web From kindergarten to high school and beyond we’re all very used to seeing our semester grades in an easy to read standard format. Whether it be the letter scale of A – F, a percent out of a hundred or a GPA, each of us could probably take someone else’s report card and understand whether they were doing well or need some work. Here’s what this can teach you about your own reporting. Grading Scale The point of a grading scale is to be able to compare your marks semester over semester, year after year. It also enables anyone familiar with the scales to jump right in and understand. This touches on the idea of standardization we’ve been talking about. We don’t have across the board standards in the social media industry yet, but you can still have a system that everyone internally is comfortable with so no matter who you hand the report to, they will be able to understand. Labels You would hate to confuse your English grade with your Math, which is why report cards have the great advantage of having very clear labels. These are essential to a good report. From the proper date, to time period, to labeling of information, these are all must to make sure nothing in your report is misunderstood. Easy to Read Short and sweet (or sour as the case may be) is why parents love the one page format of a report card. In 5 minutes they know exactly what’s going on with the most important parts of their children’s lives. Here’s an inside secret, Executives feel the same way about their airlines. Give them a report that’s short and hopefully sweet and they’ll love the 5 minute read they get. The Shifts Most report cards will show you how much you’ve improved or slipped semester to semester. This is one of the most effective things to show on a report because these shifts are the bread & butter to seeing if you are meeting your objectives. Teacher’s Comments “Johnny is progressing at an expected pace, but needs to pay more attention in class.” Even though some of us might have cringed seeing paragraphs of writing on our report cards, teacher’s comments were really analysis points highlighting what’s working and what’s not. Including comments like these on your reports will help to draw attention to what’s working and what’s not. Pass or Fail A part of the report most of us jumped right to the bottom to see: the pass or fail. This gave us a clear answer as to whether or not all the grades, notes and shifts meant we were moving on or giving it another go. Incorporating a clear manner to say whether or not your efforts and results line up with your business objectives is key to any report so that not only are you giving the “why,” but also the next steps, whether they are to move on to the next grade or take a step back and try it all over again. Now that you have the knowledge to soar on the social web, let’s look at other airlines that have taken that flight and succeeded in their social 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 22 ]
  23. 23. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web CHAPTER 8: What are the key social media opportunities for airlines? Hopefully the flight thus far has had little turbulence, and you’re back comfortably in your seat. We’re getting ready to land this social media plane, so we want to help organize some of the very thoughts we hope you’re now thinking. We gave you a lot of material, but eventually we need to come back down to solid ground so you can take off again with a new or renewed strategy. If you are already active in the social web, or are at least taking a peek at what your competitors are up to, likely you have noticed that no two airlines have identical seeming social media strategies. While the possibilities are in larger than the clear, blue sky, the last thing we want to leave you feeling is overwhelmed. Let’s look at the key uses of social media for airlines like yours. • Customer service: directly responding to customer’s questions, complaints and inquiries via social media. • Crisis management: having your finger on the pulse of a crisis just as it unfolds or directly after it occurs and being able to respond, diffuse and assist quickly. • Campaign or promotion management: the use of social media channels to spread word about a contest/sale/exciting change that you want your community to hear about and participate in discussion about • Passenger loyalty: keeping your customers engaged and interested in the community you create and making it difficult for them to ever want to fall out of love with your airline. • Keeping tabs on the competition: understanding the successes and failures of rival airlines, and using this intel to propel your own airline to a higher altitude. Never lose sight of the fact that a plane does not leave the airport in one swift upward motion. Just as there are stages to a successful take off, smooth flight, and not-so-bumpy landing, a great social media strategy should be implemented one thoughtful step at a time. Don’t feel as though you should dive in and attempt to hit all of the aforementioned use cases, and instead identify your top priority and begin there. One thing at a time. Always. Speaking of one thing at a time, please be sure your seatbelt is once again securely fastened because the runway is in sight and we’re bringing this big bird down. Once we’ve arrived at the gate safely, and you’re given the OK, be sure and gather your belongings and all of your newly inspired thoughts for a successful social media monitoring plan ahead. Oh, and one last thing, do let us know how your plan takes flight, we’d love to come on board and be your 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 23 ]
  24. 24. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web WHITE PAPER: Dear Radian6: Getting Started as an Airline Customer Service Team Dear Radian6, Our airline has just begun to use your platform for monitoring. Can you tell us how can we extend our social media wings to interact with our passengers and provide exceptional customer service? Sincerely, Customer Support Team Dear Customer, Great question! We’re sure you don’t need us to tell you that summer is an especially busy time for the travel industry. Families of all sizes are rushing to the next great attraction out of state and spending time with Aunt Margie on the other side of the country. We’re also sure you know that busy seasons in particular seem to bring an increase in impatience among crowds, as people simply want to get to their destination happy, refreshed and with their prized possessions in tow. When your customers are traveling, they may have limited bandwidth for interaction as they have an itinerary that may not include online socializing with an airline. In fact, being rushed and busy could result in hastily made comments blurted out in the simplest methods of sharing – on the social web. Quality vs Quantity As you are already using Radian6 to monitor mentions of your brand, finding and interacting with your passengers will be an easy next step. It is important to know why you want to interact with your customers. We want our customers to see us as a friend – to know that we are listening – and to realize we are genuine when we say that we care. If you are thinking like a customer, you can better appreciate what your customers may like. So keep this in mind when you share content, advice or just reach out in a friendly tone. Make what you 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 24 ]
  25. 25. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web count. Infrequent, compelling interactions will mean more to your customers than a whirlwind of pokes and hellos that only fill a social site up with too much talking. Come out, come out wherever you are! Knowing where your customers spend most of their online time talking about you will be key to ensuring you’re involved in the conversations that have the greatest influence. It is likely a rare occurrence that a customer taps you on your social-web-shoulder, pokes you and giggles then waves frantically in excitement just for the opportunity to be your friend. Customers want to know what’s in it for me? – known in marketing circles as WIIFM. So if you’re waiting for customers to cheerfully connect with you online just because, you may be waiting a long time. Remember that mention of thinking like a customer? By contemplating how people talk about airlines, air travel in general and most specifically your airline, you will be able to search for specific ways your passengers talk about you. By searching broadly for “Your Airline”, you will possibly receive more mentions than you can easily analyze. Try narrowing your search by thinking: What do our customers love about us? What do they hate? Add these keywords and phrases to your topic profile and open a topic analysis widget to get a better view of not only what your customers say, but where they are having these conversations. Just drill into the topic analysis widget to view by media type. Wherever the bulk of the conversations are being had, that is the best place to begin engaging. In the example up above of an unnamed airline, you can see that the majority of online conversations about this brand happen in blogs and Twitter. We found our customers! Now what? Talk to them. Yeah, we know, that sounds almost too easy – but it is easy! The best place to engage with your customers is in our engagement console. Why, you ask? Because you can listen and respond to your customers all within the same 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 25 ]
  26. 26. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Check out this snapshot of the engagement console. If you have not yet jumped in deep to this great instrument of engaging, let us remind you of the benefits. We also recommend checking out this overview and the great classes offered by our training team to get you started. SURPRISE! Do you remember the excitement you felt when you were given a wrapped gift and the contents of the box were entirely a mystery? Surprises can be exciting, so why not surprise your customers by friending them first and joining in on the conversations they are having about you, about travel in general and their love/need for flying? Customers who experience an interaction from behind a social profile tend to turn their ear towards that brand and actually listen. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of surprising customers is the KLM Surprises campaign. KLM really took flight using social media to demonstrate just how eager they were to soar above customer’s expectations. Check out the video and accolades to KLM’s social media mastermind Lonneke Verbiezen that everyone is talking about months later. (warning: this video is so full of happy, your smile may hurt!) So, now that you have begun looking for your customers and listening to how they speak about you so you can be better equipped to interact, you may want to be prepared for a few surprises of your own. Are you sitting down? 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 26 ]
  27. 27. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Expect turbulence Interacting with your customers can be fun and should be thoughtful. No matter how great your intentions, it is unlikely that all interactions will be filled with clear skies. Although social media is an excellent means to monitor how you’re doing overall in popularity contests, those weary passengers may have something to tell you that is not always easy to hear. Upset customers are not ‘just another detractor who may bruise your brand.’ They’re your customers. They have a need to fly, and you can fill it. You WANT their business. Not just once, but time and time again. And even better – you want them to love you enough that they tweet happy thoughts about you to their friends who also carry several frequent flier rewards cards in their wallet. What can we do about unhappy customers? It used to be that your unhappy or inquisitive customers had just two options. Visit your customer service desk in person or talk to a live agent on the phone. Today, more and more of your customers are turning to social media first (and sometimes solely) to sing your praises – or speak their mind. Part of providing excellent customer service is acknowledging what your customers share with you. The social web gives you an excellent opportunity to reach out to your clients in the same fashion they are speaking to/at/about you. This is also a chance to show your fans, foes and hopeful potential passengers how great you are at treating each customer as though they are the most important. Take the tweet below for example. Here you will see that a customer issue was resolved and the customer even shouted out a thank you and recognition to Southwest Airlines. Not only was the customer grateful, but she was happy enough to share her gratefulness with her friends and followers. Not bad, huh? Our customer support team has five members. How do we divide the work and share the love without duplicating efforts? Another great question! If you have not yet carved out a playbook to serve as a guideline for all things customer service, we recommend you start there. Although we love being transparent enough to share ours with you here, your personal playbook should be tailored to suit your airline. What are you going to do about customer inquiries, complaints, comments and kudos? Whatever your plan, be sure to document it in a playbook so that each of your social media responders deliver the image and response that your airline desires. If you have developed the framework for your playbook already, it’s now time to put your plan in 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 27 ]
  28. 28. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web Divide and conquer You may have elected a member of your team to handle complaints solely, and someone else to handle friendly “Thank you’s”. An Engagement Console Stack works much like air traffic control. Develop a plan – and stick to it! The bottom line is, we don’t want to tell you how to run your customer service social media efforts, but we do want to ensure you have the best chance at success. Remember, it’s YOUR plan so spread your wings – the sky’s the limit! ** You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky. ~Amelia Earhart** 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 28 ]
  29. 29. COMMUNITY EBOOK / OCTOBER 2011 The Airline Industry / From Takeoff to Landing: How to Soar on the Social Web CASE STUDY: AIR CANADA Snow Storms and Social Media: How Air Canada Used Social Media To Help Customers The Challenge Air Canada is Canada’s largest full-service airline. They know that keeping customers informed is a key part of good customer service.That commitment to customer service was put to the test last December when an unexpected winter storm shut down London’s Heathrow Airport. When one of the busiest airports in the world shuts down during the busiest travel period of the year, it can create havoc for airlines and travellers alike. Not surprisingly, online channels were key to getting the right information out to Air Canada’s customers and quickly as possible. The Approach For Air Canada, social media gives the company the ability to engage with their customers, share information, and build a community with their customers. It isn’t just about the increasing their Twitter following or “likes” on Facebook, it’s about finding ways to improve their customers’ experience with Air Canada. That means the Air Canada approach to social media brings together a number of departments, including corporate communications, customer relations, call centers and marketing and promotions. The Air Canada team leapt into action as the massive storm snarled air travel in the United Kingdom and rippled around the world. There was a dramatic spike in their online mentions as customers flocked to the Web.“Our customers wanted to know what was happening to their flight and their first reaction is to go online or contact our call centres,” said Mathieu Lagacé, Community Manager at Air Canada. “In situations like this social media allow us to use new and different channels to communicate operational updates in a timely manner.” “As technology continues to develop and working with our social media monitoring provider Radian6 we will develop new ways to communicate and remain engaged with our customers,” concluded John Reber, Air Canada’s Director, Corporate communications. The Results Air Canada interacted with thousands of customers who needed to find information on their flights or alternate travel arrangements. They responded in real time to help customers and share the latest information on how the stormy weather was affecting air travel. The “social phone” was ringing, and Air Canada was able to answer.Customers were pleased that they had another responsive channel to communicate with Air Canada. “We knew we were on the right track when CBC News told travelers that for up to date information and travel advisories, they should start following Air Canada on Twitter,” noted Lagace. Find us on the web: Follow us on Twitter: Read the Blog: 1 888 6RADIAN (1 888 672-3426) Copyright © 2011 - Radian6 [ 29 ]