This is a guest article by Jamie Riddell, CEO and co-founder of Digital Tomorrow Today
Airlines on Twitter
are constantly looking for more. More followers means larger potential audience, more clicks, sales, engagement with their audience.
Different airlines take different approaches to achieving this growth. British Airways
has tried promoted tweets whilst KLM
have surprised socially connected travellers
But are these methods the only way for airlines to boost followers and results?
Using BirdSong: Social Media Reconnaissance
we looked at a number of airlines to share some other examples of what they are doing, and could do for growth. We took a random survey of airlines to cover BA, Virgin Atlantic
, American Airlines
, KLM, United
and Southwest Airlines
Of the airlines we surveyed, all except BMI and Qantas offered links from the homepage to Twitter.
This connection seems like a no-brainer - announcing your twitter presence is logical on your homepage - it works to drive visitors to your twitter stream and act as a recognition of your validity on twitter, helpful when someone else owns @Qantas
What they all fail to do is explain why one should follow them on Twitter. This is a key point that is often missed.
You wouldn't ask for someone's email address without offering the benefit or at least trade off (deals, offers etc.) so why should we assume the consumer want to follow an airline?
The small links on the page are currently a good first step but could benefit from a greater statement of benefits for the customers.
Presence is an essential point that is missed by most airlines. British Airways, for example states its Twitter presence as nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, yet its audience will be active for more than just these hours and particular days.
No doubt the call centre was optimised many years ago, to ensure presence at the busiest times for the business, so why not Twitter? Of the airlines reviewed, only Cathay Pacific and Southwest Air came close to maintaing an extended presence.
The style of tweeting is also an important trait that will aid or hamper engagement. An account that tweets but does not reply could be seen as a simple broadcaster, offering little opportunity for engagement, whereas an account just replying is either purely reactive or set up to handle responses only.
We believe a succesful account offer a combination fo tweets, replies and retweets.
Of the accounts reviewed, all were most active in replying to customers. Between 65% [Southwest Airlines] and 97.6% [Qantas] of all tweets were replies, making these accounts more reactive than proactive.
Looking at the actual tweets, we can see some broad themes coming from these airline accounts. "Sorry" is a word that appears frequently in all accounts with additional references to customer care operatives showing personality of engagement.
Here is Virgin's content volume:
As the accounts measured are more reactive than reactive we can see the language measured for support and apology.
If these accounts were also actively used for flight promotions we would expect to see references of 'flights' and other terms one would see in a search campaign.
But which airline is doing it best? KLM has received praise for unique approach to wider social engagement and Southwest has been noted for its social presence.
Other social networks like Pinterest
have more obvious success metrics one can observe - likes and repins on Pinterest are signs of engagement mirrored by likes and comments on Instagram and Facebook.
From an independent review of Twitter accounts we can only share the follower numbers as one visible metric. Nevertheless, airlines no doubt are measuring their own definitions of success, from clicks to customer service metrics.
The top airlines on Twitter, based on our survey.
- Southwest Airlines @southwestair - 1,295,554 followers
- American Airlines @AmericanAir - 369,019 followers
- KLM @KLM - 253,678
- BA North America @britishairways - 216,821 followers
- BA Global @british_airways - 174,177 followers
- United @united - 114,244 followers
- Qantas @qantasairways - 80,805 followers
- Virgin Atlantic @virginatlantic - 72,233 followers
- BMI @flybmi - 11,462 followers
Here is an example of the Qantas dashboard:
NB: This is a guest article by Jamie Riddell, CEO and co-founder of Digital Tomorrow Today. BirdSong is its latest product and delivers on-demand insight for any brand on Twitter.