The airline industry has three different engagement arenas: physical arena, which is mostly about the appearance of the industry, the digital arena which includes websites and mobile applications of the industry or business and lastly there is the social media arena, the engagement arena which became very important over the past few decades, and includes all the different social media platforms (Peelen, E. & Beltman, R., 2013).
Within the airline industry, the social media arena has grown extensively. Most airlines are having their own business accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Pinterest. The social media platforms and their interesting tools have enabled the airline industry to engage with their customers in a more direct way.
An effective tool on Twitter is the Retweet button. An airline can post a tweet and a customer has the ability to Retweet the tweet, in order to show their followers what the airline just tweeted. The tweet that the airline just posted, will be seen by their followers as well. Basically, the follower who retweeted the tweet of the airline company, helped the business to reach more people. The prospects, the potential customers (Peelen, E. & Beltman, R., 2013), can be reached as well and might be brought in the customer relationship pyramid when he or she starts to follow the airline’s account and get more information about the company and might eventually purchase a product or service.
Moreover, airlines have set their own hashtags in order to create more awareness and to reach a bigger audience. Turkish airlines are using the hashtag #GuessWhere on their posts on Twitter. This ensures engagement with the customer. They are asking a question, and use an additional hashtag to it. Many followers respond or retweet the post, which gives the post a higher reach (Business2community, 2015).
Furthermore, there is the phenomenon of User Generated Content. According to Mangold & Faulds (2009), around half of the content on airline’s Facebook accounts is content produced and delivered by the customer. This material is being used to advertise in a further stage on one of the social media platforms, including the name of the customer who took the photo. Transavia uses #wingletwednesday, this hashtag is being used on Wednesdays, and basically asks the customer to share a photo from “above the clouds”. Many people liked and shared the post, which means that besides the followers of the Transavia page, the friends of the customers who had shared or liked the picture will see the post as well. All those extra features such as the like and share option, is another asset for the airline industry as the customers help the airline to spread their messages with more people then only their followers, who can be seen as prospects. This is also called the multiplier effect (piportent, 2010).
Source: Facebook Transavia
All those effective social media tools such as sharing, liking, using a hashtag and User Generated Content lead to a a movement in the customer relationship pyramid. Customers get more loyal to a business through Facebook as they display often what customers like. By displaying interesting content and use material from the customer itself, a stronger connection will be created between the customer and the business (Heller Baird, C., & Parasnis, G., 2011).
Photo credits: Eezer Data Lab used under cc 2.0
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Heller Baird, C., & Parasnis, G. (2011). From social media to social customer relationship management. Strategy & Leadership, 39(5), 30-37
Hubspot. (October 9, 2015). How New Technology is Changing the Way We Earn (And Retain) Customers Online. Retrieved October 9, 2015 from: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/technologies-customer-acquisition?utm_campaign=blog-rss-emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=22724152
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Mangold, W. G., & Faulds, D. J. (2009). Social media: the new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business horizons, 52(4), 357-365