CROSS-OVER POST FROM SIMPLIFLYING : Why Airlines Must Understand That Social Media Is Like A BBQ

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21/05/2009 – CROSS-OVER POST FROM SIMPLIFLYING : Why Airlines Must Understand That Social Media Is Like A BBQ

Thee have been quite a few times when Shashank Nigam’s Simpliflying and my Flying With Fish have written about similar topics on the same day, or days apart. As I regularly read Simpliflying and Shashank reads Flying With Fish, we’ve decided to start a few ‘cross-over’ posts on similar topics.

Shashank has a brilliant mind for airline branding and offers fantastic insights into the industry. Hopefully this will become a regular feature on both Simpliflying and Flying With Fish.

…so without further interruption, I’d introduce you to ‘Simpliflying

Happy Flying
Airline brands must understand that social media is like a BBQ cookout party

I’ve been seeing a lot of airlines jump into social media lately – especially on Twitter. But once they do that,
most of them run around like a headless chicken – or at least that how it appears to the outsider viewer. Let me share with you a couple of examples.

Emirates Airlines – which pitches itself as one of the best in the world, joined Twitter at the start of the year, and posted 19 updates about their destinations – all on the same day (see pic below). And at the other end of the spectrum, JetBlue does quite a good job of engaging over half a million of its followers with a mix of witty remarks, contests and deals. But all of them seem to be figuring out what to do. So here’s an analogy that might explain things a little.

a screenshot of a social media post

Why Social Media = BBQ Cookout Party

At a BBQ cookout party, people are with those they trust, with those they consider friends. They give advice, seek advice (often on BBQ cooking), share thoughts and stories, laugh a little and have fun. What they DO NOT do is only talk about their company’s product updates or swipe a credit card an buy products.

Much of social media is like a cookout. People hangout with many they know on Facebook – hence their ability to open up so easily. On Twitter, people are either imparting knowledge, gaining knowledge or sharing quick thoughts with their “followers”.  And mixing direct selling is not good in such a situation.

So how did Dell make $1 million off Twitter?

But then, Dell announced recently that they had made $1 million by selling their products on Twitter. How did they do it? They have a dedicated channel (@delloutlet) which clearly tells its followers that it will only have offers. Once the expectations are set, then people expect the same and even the followers are those looking for deals, not for help setting up their computer! And that’s where airlines are failing.

Lufthansa also started a Twitter account recently. A friend from Switzerland wrote to me, “Lufthansa is just posting auctions. There is no added value for customers and no involvement except monetary incentive.” This is a perfect example of not setting the right expectations, and hence creating disappointment among followers. They’d have done much better, had they gone with an @lufthansaAuctions account name. Don’t you think?

I don’t think indiscrimanately selling on Twitter is going to work. It might hurt the brand even more. It’s like going to a cookout, and then trying to sell your software with a discount.

Having said that, there’s a reason why Tupperware parties exist and why @DellOutlet made dell a million bucks!

What do you think? How should airline brands utilize Twitter and other social media? What are they doing wrong? Let’s discuss.

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