News | OnlineCustomer service top priority (rather than sales) for airlines on social mediaThis article was originally published onBy Kevin May | November 2, 2015 An annual survey of airline executives has seen a subtle change in how they and their businesses approach and utilise social media.The analysis of the how carriers build a strategy around their use of social media has been in the industry every year since 2010, carried out by business and marketing consultancy Simpliflying.The Outlook Report for 2016 has identified five significant trends in its interviews with 166 executives from 78 carriers around the world:1. Greater focus on driving core business goals from social media, customer service is top priorityAirline executives wish to drive an increasing number of business goals using social media. Customer service, loyalty and ancillary rev-enues have each grown signiﬁcantly as one of the top priorities.This is particularly true of providing customer service via social media, which has become the top priority for 88.5% of airline executives (edging past Brand Awareness).2. Dedicated teams are the most successful, but distributed most popularDedicated teams received a 100% satisfaction score. However, the most used team structure—distributed—reported a 59% satisfaction score, despite being used by 63% of the respondents.3. Senior management not in sync with changing needs and potential of social mediaThere appears to be a gap between the priorities, preferred team structure and opti-mism of the senior level and middle level management.4. Priorities for airlines vary across regionsRegional differences in terms of priorities and challenges are quite stark. 75% of Middle Eastern airlines recognise inﬂexibility of team structures as the top challenge whereas only 43% of airline executives in Asia Paciﬁc (APAC) felt the same.Similarly, driving loyalty using social media was a priority for 88.5% of middle eastern airlines but only for 55% of European ones.5. Advertising spend is driving budgetary increaseOnly 71% of airlines expect social bud-gets to increase or remain the same in 2015-16.Of these, 50% expect budgets to be in-creased for advertising. 25% expect it to go towards acquisition of new tools and 25% to-wards team expansion.Some of the key findings are illustrated below:Customer service is the top priority for all departmentsTop usage of social media dataTeam structure of airline social media teams and satisfaction ratingsWhat type of team best suits an airlineTop challenges for airlines and social media strategyNB: Airline social media image via Shutterstock.NB2: The full report is available here.