Can Airlines Use Social To Maintain Their Reputation?

November 7, 2014

It looks like the sky’s the limit for airline brands when it comes to their social media budget, according to a recent infographic I came across last week. The Airline Social Media Outlook 2015 report found that 63% of airline executives expect their social media budget to rise next year and the majority of them would like to use 10-15% of their marketing budgets on this medium. But what are the reasons behind this? Why are they so optimistic? What is the expected impact of social media for airlines?

Some 87% want to use social media data to develop further customer insights or segmentation, with 78% saying they want to use it for new product strategies and 76% hoping to enhance their customer service.

A blog post on Hootsuite supports this, claiming that savvy airlines are embracing social media to connect with the public, build a strong customer base and positive sentiment, and effectively handle crises.

The use of social data to provide insights can allow airlines to understand and adapt to customers’ concerns. Whether it’s thoughts on how to improve the online booking process or changing on-flight food menus, customer service is a big one for airlines. Who wants to make a phone call to be put on hold? Social channels give customers the chance to post their problems or concerns and then relax, without having to wait for what seems like an eternity with one occupied ear.

As an example to go by, JetBlue has become a widely recognised brand for being witty, entertaining and one of the most responsive airlines on social media, ever since 2007 when JetBlue faced a PR crisis. After a Valentine's Day storm hit and JetBlue disappointed many customers wanting to fly to their loved ones, JetBlue saw tweets flooding in with comments and was hooked. They paid a lot of money and waited a long time to get feedback through traditional media and there it was over social media: quick, easy and free. Perhaps it’s time for all airlines to use social media to its full potential.