American Airlines’ AAdvantage Facebook Fans grow 84 fold in 54 hours. The most successful campaign ever by an airline?

It’s a very simple proposition. “Like” a Facebook fanpage to get a random reward. In the case of American Airlines’ AAdvantage, the reward is to get between 100 to 100,000 miles just for liking their Facebook fanpage, in their Mystery Miles contest.

If the smart folks at AAdvantage had run this campaign a week earlier, they’d have surely made it to the Top 10 Facebook Contests by Airlines, which we put out last week. Because the results they’ve achieved in just three days seem phenomenal!

The most successful Facebook contest by an airline, till date?

The loyalty group at American Airlines, AAdvantage, set up the Facebook fanpage on Feb 1. And in the first couple of weeks, they managed to garner 2000+ fans, organically. Then they decided to launch the Mystery Miles campaign to drive membership, and the numbers hit through the roof.

In 24 hours, they went from 2,558 fans to 163,000 and had reached a staggering 210,000 fans at the time of this post, just 54 hours after the campaign was launched. Moreover, the interactions and engagements on the fanpage increased dramatically too, from just 41 likes for one of the initial posts, to over 1,200 likes for one just sent out!

They sure achieved their aim of “increasing their fans”!

“The opportunities to reward our customers through these new dedicated social media channels are endless and we’re delighted to find fresh and innovative ways to connect with our loyal members,” said Maya Leibman, President – AAdvantage Loyalty Program. “Just the click of a mouse lets our members earn miles towards their next getaway or dream vacation. Everyone’s a winner – and what’s not to ‘like’ about that?”

Having studied the industry in-depth in this area, we haven’t come across such a successful, planned campaign by an airline loyalty program yet.

Is airline loyalty the holy grail for airline engagement?

Given the success of this campaign, and having spent the last two days speaking at and interacting with airline loyalty professionals at Loyalty2011 in Dallas, it makes me wonder – is loyalty the area where social media will work best for airlines? The answer is probably yes.

Frequent flyers are already part of traditional airline “communities” – the FFP program databases. They already know the brand. And when airlines engage them using a medium they’re familiar with, the FFP members adopt quickly. This has been the case with jetBlue’s TrueBlue Community, KLM’s Bluenity and now AAdvantage’s facebook fanpage.

For airlines, they’re also able to drive better results through people they know who fly them, rather than trying to distinguish between “ranters” and “real-customers” on Twitter/Facebook. And that’s what makes this combination very promising – loyalty + social media.

What next for AAdvantage Facebook Fanpage?

I’m sure the team managing this campaign at American Airlines did not envision such a tremendous response to their efforts. But now that they’re on course to reach half a million fans in a week or so, what do they do? How do they manage this? Here are some questions that need to be answered:

  1. How to distinguish between the one-time “likers” and the “real-fans”?
  2. How to set the right expectations for future campaigns, given the first campaign was so generous?
  3. How to start driving business from these fans – how many offers is too many?
  4. How to scale up the team internally and use the right tools to manage this?

I think this is going to be interesting. I’ll be watching keenly! What do you think? Let’s hear it in the comments and on Twitter (@simpliFlying)

Great job, AA!

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Showing 8 comments
  • Oussama

    It is a click and it does not cost anything, I got a 100 miles. However, I was one of the original 2622 and I used the Facebook page to thank AA for things AA and AAdvantage have done to make my flights and on board experience better. AAdvantage works very well with their FFP and no day passes without getting a promotional email for tickets and other perks. I travel a lot and I am a member of several FFPs, three of which I am a silver or gold member. However, AAdvantage tops the list in terms of engagement and of course reaction to requests on their website. Responses ranged fro half an hour to 12 hours and both were satisfactory.
    I know that AA monitors their FB page since I got an acknowledgment within a couple of hours from posting thank you notes.
    What they need now is leverage these numbers and engage us more on twitter and FB, Their e-mail traffic is great and informative but it is all marketing, FB and Twitter should go beyond marketing and into customer service and support, Members of their FFP should be encouraged to interact with their social media platforms to resolve their problems and the platform to do is that can be through their marketing e-mails

  • Pasqualina Petruccio

    AAdvantage campaign whilst it seems to be a success, an awful lot depends on how they treat their FB fans. They used an incentive to collect ‘fans’, and l do not see this is an effective method to collect fans, fans should come naturally and not be enticed . As many brands have found to their cost that having hundreds and thousands of fans do not convert into sales which untimely trying to achieve.
    Has AA considered what they as a brand intends to use their Facebook fans for, and establish in advance how the brand interact with them? Do they have clear communications goals (e.g., exposure and promotion, positioning, customer service, insight and research)?

    FB fans if not managed properly can go prove very damaging for a brand , aggrieve customers will use FB as a forum to vent their anger and frustrations. Why getting a Woody and bribing people won’t get you any real friends.

    Moreover fans have to work for you , they need to be you ambassadors and talk about you, if those people just added your page and never talked the brand again, then AA have missed an opportunity for expanded loyalty and exponential growth.

    Creating an ecosystem is far more important their efforts online and offline echo and amplify each other and set out an editorial calendar that reflects their marketing efforts across other media.

    Therefore, l will wait and see how this pans out before l deem it a success or not.

  • nita20

    Does anyone know how many new AAdvantage member sign-ups they received?

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