As social media usage keeps rapidly growing worldwide, many businesses are trying to adapt various platforms to market their products online as well as to reach out to their existing and potential customers and engage with them better by offering a more innovative communication tool. Airlines, in this case, are not an exception as most of them try to create a strong presence on social media platforms to strengthen their relationship with customers and add extra to their experience. This strategy, if implemented successfully, provides today’s customers with exactly what they are looking for – hyper-relevant communications that speak to them as individuals and speedy guidance throughout each stage of the customer life cycle. (Marketo, 2015)
Social media allows businesses to be present worldwide and reach potential customers across the globe, making them more accessible to everyone. In case of Latvian airline airBaltic, social media benefitted the company greatly when the country was hit hard by the financial and economic crisis. Financial struggles triggered a dramatic decline in the number of Latvian customers, thus the company had to strengthen their online presence in order to reach customers outside of Latvia and this ended up in their online presence being larger than in the real world. (Nigam, 2014)
It is know that when it comes to building relationships between businesses and customers, trust is an essential element for keeping customers satisfied and, of course, for the success of a business. Consumers receiving messages and gaining information on social media platforms tend to trust them more than the messages transmitted through official media and advertising campaigns due to more personalised content (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). Airline customers nowadays demand transparency, authenticity and honesty from their suppliers and Southwest Airlines, for example, are rather successful in that by maintaining transparency in its content on various social media channels and being real and personal in conversations with customers. (Boone & Kurtz, 2015) Besides that, consumers are more and more likely to see the value in the interaction and the experience, not in the product itself. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013) Airlines can do it all by making use of social media, which not only allows the airline to quickly provide its customers with answers they are looking for, but it can also reduce the cost of operating other communication platforms. (Nigam, 2014)
Even though social media channels seem to be the perfect platform to engage with your customers actively and maintain the relationship, airlines should not completely shift to online communication yet, as elderly consumers are known to be less active or even not familiar with social media or internet in general. Targeting a wide range of customer ages, airlines must keep the balance between online and offline customer engagement tools in order to maximise customer reach and ensure customer satisfaction.
Boone, L., & Kurtz, D. (2015). Contemporary Marketing (16 ed.).
Marketo. (2015). The 5 Principles of Engagement Marketing. Retrieved September 19, 2016, from https://www.marketo.com/ebooks/elements-of-engagement-marketing/
Nigam, S. (2014). Airlines in Social Media. Retrieved from http://simpliflying.com/wp-content/uploads/Compiled-v9.pdf
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.