The Importance of Social Media with the Focus on the Airline Industry

Social media platforms are essential tools in today’s society that many people do not want to disclaim anymore. A statistic has shown, that “social networking is the top online activity in the US, with the average American spending 37 minutes per day” (Karr, D., 2014). Due to the popularity and the increasing number of participants, more and more businesses, amongst others many airlines, realized that social media is a useful tool and a general foundation of their marketing strategy to reach prospects and customers (Karr, D., 2014).

When introducing Social Customer Engagement Management, getting closer to customers is the main priority of businesses. This is why they create social media programs, because they provide the opportunity to do so (Parasnis, C. 2011). Research has shown that social media is not only used to increase web traffic and increase brand exposure, it is also essential to acquire more customers. To be more specific, 70% of B2C marketers have gained new customers through Facebook (Karr, D. (2014).

Understanding the customer’s value in such a unique environment is a key element for companies, especially because often there is a gap between what the company thinks their customers want and what a customer really wants (Parasnis, C. 2011). Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that the social media arena cannot only positively, but also negatively affect the brand, depending on comments, reactions and interactions. Are people actually interested in getting to know a brand, establishing contact and interacting with a company or are they just focused on making profit themselves? Taking this into account, a statistic has stated that promotions and discounts are the number one reason for customers to follow brands on social media, followed by information about the latest news and customer service (Karr, D., 2014).

Companies need to reflect positively on customers by answering politely, quickly and with a helpful attitude. A statistic of 2014 has stated that 49% show positive reactions towards the interactions with brands on Facebook and 55% on twitter, whereas 20% of users negatively react on interactions on both platforms (Karr, D., 2014). This shows, that improvements are always necessary and recommended.

KLM, for example, offers service on social media 24/7, by responding within an hour and helping with requests within a day. Moreover, they offer assistance in more than 10 languages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 2015). Nowadays, KLM almost reaches 10 million likes on Facebook. Comparing their social media strategy to Lufthansa, the company aims to be wherever their customers are. Since 2009 they provide a Facebook page, counting almost two million likes. Up-to-date information, news and daily offers can be found as well as discussions about service issues can be hold directly with the company (Lufthansa, 2015).

In the previous years, the presence of airline companies is growing larger on social media and the interactions with the companies are increasing. For example, “there has been a 60% increase in the number of tweets received by airlines between February 2011 and March 2011. In March 2011, airlines received 101,400 tweets and sent out more than 24,000 replies” (Hameed, B., 2011). Moreover, 40% of airlines focus more on their social media presence by expanding their social media team. Employees from customer service, marketing corporate communications and e-commerce are brought together (Hameed, B., 2011).

To conclude, the availability of airlines on social media platforms increased significantly due to the rising popularity of social media. Social media is often used as a foundation of a company’s marketing strategy and research has shown, that customers react on it. For example, 46% of all web users take a look at social media platforms when they make a purchase and approximately 37% of all twitter users will buy a product from a brand they follow (Hameed, B., 2011). Airlines can deliver customer service, give information, provide up-to-date news and interact with customers. When they provide positive moments of truth, there is even a chance that prospects move up the Customer Relationship Pyramid by becoming a customer.  

Bibliography

Hameed, B. (2011), How the Airline Industry is Using Social Media to Fuel Growth, Retrieve from http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/how-the-airline-industry-is-using-social-media-to-fuel-growth-infographic/68707

Karr, D. (2014), 2014 Statistics and trends for businesses on social media, Retrieved from https://www.marketingtechblog.com/2014-statistics-trends-businesses-social-media/

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (2015), 24/7 service via social media, Retrieved from https://www.klm.com/travel/nl_en/plan_and_book/klm_on_social_media/24_7_service_and_assistance/index.htm

Lufthansa (2015), “Go where our customers are”, Retrieved from http://newsro om.lufthansa.com/facebook

Parasnis, C.H.B.G. (2011),”From social media to social customer relationship management”, Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 39 Iss 5 pp. 30 – 37

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