Social CRM for Airlines – Managing the Cult and driving true value (Plus: upcoming webinar)

Managing an airline’s presence on social media can be an extremely demanding job. This is due to several reasons attributable to both the platforms used as well as those managing them. One thing is certain: in almost all the conversations I’ve had with airline executives, having a large audience on Twitter and Facebook (the two most popular social media platforms) is a high priority goal. However, many are unsure of what to do when they do get their “dream” audience numbers.

For example, can you answer the following questions:

a)      If your airline has a large number (say 10,000) of followers on Twitter, will you answer queries asked by each of those people?

b)      If yes, how will you manage it? Do you have the resources? More, importantly, will you be able to sustain this as follower numbers increase?

c)      If no, will you choose to respond to only certain people? Is your selection criteria based on any objective parameters?

A recent infographic revealed that more than 180 airlines are now using Twitter. Interestingly, it showed that United Airlines is mentioned in about 160 tweets per day but sends out a paltry 3tweets a day. Also, most of the tweets have something negative to say about United. Why doesn’t United engage its customers more on Twitter?

Two answers come to mind: first, that it doesn’t have a planned Twitter strategy in place. Second, even if it has a social media strategy, it doesn’t have the resources to carry it out.

Questions for an airline’s social media team

So, how should airlines that have a large, active audience on social media manage their audience? There are two things that all airlines looking to manage their social media audiences should be able to answer.

a)      Do you know the frequent flyers in your social media audience?

b)      Do you know which of your frequent flyers has the most influential social media presence?

Webinar on how airlines can drive value through Social CRM

Why is answering these questions important? First, it’s no longer the age of traditional customer relationship management. As Simplifying has mentioned before, CRM is now Cult Relationship Management. Simply put, from an airline’s perspective, a particular frequent flyer might have a huge social media presence with a large number of “followers” and friends. Now, this audience, which is not directly known to the airline, could fly them someday based on just a tweet or Facebook status message from the frequent flyer. It can therefore be hugely rewarding for an airline if it’s able to identify such “cults” that exist in its customer base.

Register for our special, free webinar on 5th April at 10 am EST for the answers to all these questions. Apart from this, there’ll be a detailed walkthrough of a new Social CRM system that SimpliFlying is producing in partnership with JitterJam.

Shubhodeep Pal

Shubhodeep Pal

Vice President, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying
Shubhodeep Pal is the Vice President, Products and Operations at SimpliFlying. He has been leading Research, Product Development, Marketing and Business Development since December 2010 from the headquarters in Singapore. He has spoken at airline conferences and delivered training workshops for senior aviation executives. He has also appeared on television interviews and been quoted in publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His writings have appeared extensively on SimpliFlying and respected industry outlets such as Airlinetrends, Tnooz, Airport World, Low Cost and Regional Airline Business Magazine and Loyalty360. In a previous role, he also conducted a workshop on social media at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. He speaks three languages fluently, and is also a published poet and amateur film critic. He can be reached at
Shubhodeep Pal
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Showing 7 comments
  • Oussama

    There is a train of thought in airlines that carry millions of passengers to minimize the effect of a few thousands unhappy customers on the overall scheme of things, somewhat condescending. Basically social media is to handle the incidents and events that can go viral and tarnish an airline or organisation's reputation and not to answer individual customer complaints.

  • Aviation Experts

    Great article.
    As I'm working as an airline consultant also in the area of CRM, Twitter becomes more and more an important role for airlines. Although from my point of view most of the airlines are still not using the full potential of Twitter. Special airlines from Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa just have a Twitter account a post some advertisements from time to time. The advantages of Twitters as a CRM Tool are not quite clear to them at the moment. Nonetheless you are absolutely right that using Twitter as a CRM Tool needs a lot of planning and ongoing management.

    • Shashank Nigam

      Indeed, the potential is huge. Let's empower airlines to leverage that to the fullest 🙂

  • Thromby Air

    Like all companies, airlines need to come to terms with Social Media. At Thromby Air we have been trying to find a low cost solution for our Social Media department, with mixed success…


    I am working for the National Carrier in India. Social Media Marketing is still new to us. Though in India technology develops very fast it is for the National Carrier to take it up.

    • Shashank Nigam

      Hi Girija – as an Indian, I really wish for Air India to succeed. But the state it is in currently makes us all very, very worried. Hope things improve soon.
      If there’s anything we can do to help, especially with bringing social media or customer engagement in the fold, please let us know who to reach out to.

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