Recently, the Eurpoean airline Jet2 shut down its Twitter account. Possibly because they couldn’t scale up their efforts. Well, at least Jet2 officially shut it down.
Many other airlines and airports that caught the wave of excitement about social media last year and started Twitter and Facebook accounts didn’t have a strategy behind scaling their efforts. They simply went with the flow, and either ran out of resources, or couldn’t convince senior management of the value in their efforts to the overall brand. Examples include Middle East majors like Emirates (last tweet in Jan, 2010) and Qatar Airways (last Tweet in Feb, 2009). So, what does this reflect?
Don’t let the tail wag the dog!
Airlines and airports that are already into social media should look to build a sustainable engagement strategy, as well a resource strategy. It shouldn’t become a case of the follower numbers exploding due to a viral video or giveaway, and the Marketing team having to double the team’s size all of a sudden.
Rather, by planning ahead and tying social media efforts closely to overall brand goals and setting up KPIs, airlines and airports will not allow the tail to wag the dog – it’s a situation nobody wants to be in.
Some questions to think about scalability…
- Should an airline (or any business) set some boundaries for their involvement in social media, or will their customers continuously expand the scope of the conversation?
- Who manages that scope – the customers or the airline?
- And what happens if the customers want to go beyond the scope that the airline wants? (Scope can mean volume, expectations for responsiveness, content of the conversation, etc.)
Even if you don’t have answers to these questions right now, it’s important to think about them and prepare ahead of time. Look at how Jetblue has a 12-person team dealing with customer service and marketing issues on Twitter (surely a well thought-out plan). Look at how Delta Airlines has set up a social media lab to slowly but surely scale up their efforts.
You don’t want to start digging the well when you’re thirsty right?
What do you think? How should airlines tackle scalability? Any good examples you can share?
P.S: I will be answering these questions and more in my upcoming webinar on social media ROI for airlines. Register now! http://bit.ly/airlineroi