Month: April 2014

Delta Airlines Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media

We have seen how airlines and airports alike are using social media to reach more potential fliers and to connivence their existing ones. The interactions between industry and customer that we have seen so far have been useful information being given out for the sake of the flier. There is however a side of social media that companies need to be aware of, sometimes things should be answered in a more professional way than via social media.

Delta Airlines is a perfect example of this, Delta had begun to establish themselves online like most other airlines do, starting with a Twitter page and a Facebook page as well. In addition Delta made a separate verified Twitter page for just customer support inquires. One flier tweeted into DeltaAssist about how aggravated she was with her flight delay and subsequent cancellation of her connecting flight. DeltaAssist quickly replied offering to help rebook her new flight through Twitter’s Direct Message service. It allows Twitter users to have conversations that do not show up publicly.

The more unpleasant side of social media relationships effected Delta in February of 2014. Lindsay Jaynes whose 10-week old son is required to eat every two hours, and cannot feed from the bottle or under a cover, asked Delta about their policy on breastfeeding. Delta replied telling the flier that she must cover up so they suggested she pump before hand. Lindsay then replied along with several other Twitter users about the false information given by Delta’s tweet. You are allowed to legally in the United States and Delta has no official policy regarding breastfeeding. While Delta apologized quickly for the misinformation, the damage was already done, and Twitter exploded over the issue. After the brief exchange between Lindsay and Delta the event was over, but the lasting impressions remain. Simply doing a Google search of Delta and Twitter immediately brings up this story.

This is a good example of how far business’s using social media still have to go in terms of working out all of the kinks of using social media effectively. While Delta did nothing wrong in replying to her, they were nice, the tone was there, the rapid response was there. The thing that was missing was taking the extra minute to check their policy’s and facts. One challenge that stares business in the face is finding the balance between rapid responses and quality responses. I think that Delta learned a valuable lesson with no major consequence in this case, but they will have to learn what the correct mediums and times are to use social media.

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Southwest Soars Above the Competition

Southwest has always held a top spot for airlines that are using social media, as you read in my last post, but what is it that Southwest is doing that is setting it apart from the rest of competition? Simply put, it is the entirety of their social media presence. The amount of time and resources that they push towards maintaining their predominate presence on social media is what sets them apart. This endeavor has paid off, according to Keynote, a global leader in internet and mobile, cloud testing and monitoring. They named Southwest.com the best in overall customer experience in any US air travel booking websites. In order to measure the effectiveness of the website and the quality of customer support, a series of tests were conducted on each website. Panelists chosen were asked to spend a few minutes on the website and to gather first impressions. After this, they were asked to preform a few routine flight checks and booking checks. They were asked to search for specific flights from the home page and external search engines. The panelist provided additional important information into why Southwest.com is so attractive. The main points were: the ease booking flights and the flight search option, as well as the website looking pleasing.

Aside from a practical website and a Twitter presence, Southwest also has another big social media presence on the web, Nuts about Southwest.

Nuts About Southwest's Home Page

Nuts about Southwest is Southwest’s blog, with a growing team made not only of Southwest employees, but also customers and partners. Here they post regularly about the happenings of Southwest Air. Whether it is major changes in the way the airline operates, or something funny that happened, this blog is completely immersive. Not only is it updated several times a day, but it also allows customers to write in with comments, complaints, and suggestions. In the corner, there are tabs to take you to any other online presence. Southwest has, made this blog a one-stop shop for anything Southwest.

As you can see from the video above, Nuts by Southwest and its contributors aren’t all business. It is videos like this mixed in with interviews with the Founder and Chairmen, and behind the scenes airplane maintenance that provide the viewer with a sense of genuineness. Because of this and the fact that readers can write into the blog and ask questions are what makes this blog such a strong media-marketing tool. I think that Southwest really nailed this one and are is a perfect example of how successful a blog can be when you: realize how to reach your target audience, have a committed and diverse team, and have the reputation of a great brand behind you.

Southwest Makes Friends Using Twitter

Since more and more airlines are adopting social media, Twitter in specific, to accomplish things and interact with customers, the fliers are realizing the increasing ease at which they are able to interact directly with the airlines. Southwest Air thinks so, after the 2013 holiday season, the rate in which fliers interact with the industry via social media skyrocketed. This trend will only continue in greater number in the seasons to come. Fliers are realizing how much voice they have in these companies who are almost constantly monitoring their online presence.

By using records that were set in 2012 from the holiday traffic, Southwest has come up with the most frequently asked questions and have posted them on most of their online profiles, and have also prepped responders to respond to these question quickly. In January of 2014 Southwest launched its Listening Center which is powered by Salesforce Radian6, which is a social media monitoring platform that will allow Southwest to engage its customers in almost real time.

Southwest doesn’t stop at using its online presence to reach fliers and potential fliers. In February of 2013, Southwest engaged in a conversation with JetBlue over Twitter. A frequent flier named Phoenix Robles tweeted that “It’s an aviation geek thing, but it SERIOUSLY annoys me when people abbreviate @SouthwestAir as “SW” and @JetBlue as “JB” *….”. This then continued on in a lighthearted conversation between the two airlines. The two airlines continued on in a light hearted conversation over Twitter, throwing around aviation jargon, and making jokes. A third user, Alexa Rae, tweeted both airlines saying, “You guys friends or something?”

 

JetBlue's Reply

JetBlue’s Reply

 

Southwest's Reply

Southwest’s Reply

It’s nice to see that not only are airlines interacting more with the fliers, but also with each other. Interactions like this speak more for the brand of a company than any amount of advertisement can do. In this interaction, we see the respect and lighthearted genuineness that come from both of these companies. I can only hope to see more interactions like this in the future.