How Airlines on Facebook are Generating Engagement – and Creating Huge Fanbases
The hospitality industry has benefited greatly from social media, having narrowed in on a variety of creative uses. In this column, I’ve focused primarily on hotels and restaurants, but wanted to provide some due diligence to the source of getting there: air travel. Airlines have made significant waves in social media, and specifically on Facebook, over the past several years. Major brands such as Southwest, Virgin, American Airlines, United and JetBlue all have six or seven-figure fanbases, and post regular updates and engagement stimulators.
Darren Booth of CNBC featured an interview with Jonathan Pierce, American Airlines’ Director of social media communications. Pierce noted that, “Customer service is the foundation of our social strategy with the intent of long-term relationships with each customer interaction. We aim to achieve a balance between assistance and inspiring travel, and achieve this by delivering real value in the content we create and share.”
In visiting American’s Facebook page, it’s clear they’re honoring this statement. Between announcing live chats with major company figures; announcing new international routes and deals; and sharing trivia, fans can also find photos of new flight attendants, inspirational or enticing questions, as well as a variety of destination photos. Another noteworthy aspect is that the airline commonly responds to fan comments and inquiries, creating and emphasizing a level of accessibility that many brands seem to still take for granted.
Virgin embodies many of these trends as well, in addition to many non-airline topics. For example, they highlighted Earth Day as a staff by volunteering on many related initiatives, and shared photos of the experience on Facebook. Followers can also peruse photos of team members at basketball games, along with relating to pop culture mentions like the Coachella Music Festival and TV show Portlandia. Sharing things like this, as opposed to strict business content, really sets a high bar in humanizing the brand and reaching supporters on a much more personal level.
Airlines based in Asia are also recognizing the value of Facebook and extreme transparency. Windmill Networking founder Neal Schaffer recently penned an excellent post on his personal experience with All Nippon Airways (ANA). In it, Neal mentions that the brand explicitly includes their Facebook content strategy in their in-flight magazine. He also discusses that ANA is very clear about what you can expect when you like the ANA Facebook page. One of their key strategies involves embracing Facebook as “an extremely low-cost way of sharing stories about their brand that they couldn’t do elsewhere in order to keep mindshare with their fans.”
They accomplish this by introducing an ANA staff member each week; showcasing branded aircrafts; offering behind-the-scenes insight and more. By providing this intimate look to the brand, the Japanese airline is able to showcase personality and really connect.
In what other ways have airlines gone above and beyond on Facebook?