Airbus A350 First Flight on social media – an analysis of #A350FirstFlight

New plane launches do not happen very often. And when they do happen, the first flight is one of the most important. Today was one such important day in history, as Airbus launched the first A350 flight, ahead of the Paris Airshow. Like RedBull’s stratosphere jump by Felix Baumgartner, today’s first flight of the Airbus A350 was one of the best executed ones we have seen from a social media and online marketing perspective.

Go crazy with videos, photos and tweets!

What differentiated it from past plane launches was an increased focus on the Live sharing of the event that not only included a Live feed on YouTube that lasted well over 5 hours and featured live Facebook and Twitter updates, but also incorporated a brand new social network: Vine.

The usage of Vine was particularly significant since this social network can only function from a mobile phone that has to be used to record the short 6 seconds videos. This meant that the company could not professionally edit the video in any way and it had to dispatch a person with a mobile phone as close as possible to the event itself. The efforts paid off and its third Vine became one of the most widely shared links during the event.

On the “traditional” social media side Airbus used Twibbon to allow users to add a badge to their Twitter and Facebook profile image to show support for the maiden flight of the A350. On Facebook the main Airbus account was also used to create a dedicated Facebook event.

Before the event Airbus had also set up a dedicated microsite  to host the live feed and shared a hash tag for the event with its Twitter followers

Detailed analysis

In the following presentation you will find a full detailed analysis on the event including statistics and screenshots of the most relevant elements.

Room for improvement

One of the aspects that could have been improved is the responsiveness of the company’s accounts to tweets, and comments by users. We saw large number of users asking questions using either the live comment feed available on YouTube or mentioning directly Airbus on Twitter, but we could not find any answer to their queries. The Airbus US twitter account seemed a bit more active and even received a tweet from Boeing congratulating on the first flight. Perhaps, the core Communications team could have been bolstered by other teams to respond to queries, which weren’t always specific. After all, we’re supposed to have a dialogue on social media, which is two-way.

Having said that, Airbus Communications team has done a phenomenal job of creating lots of media, in real-time, for lots of sources. Taking traditional PR to a new level by complementing it with social media. Others like Bombardier should be watching with a keen eye, with their own CSeries first flight scheduled for later this year. Airbus has set the bar high for competition.


Marco Serusi

Marco Serusi

Former Director of Consulting at SimpliFlying
Marco Serusi was Consultant at SimpliFlying from November 2011 to January 2019 and has worked on major client projects with the likes of LATAM Airlines, London Heathrow and Airbus. He has also delivered training in digital aviation strategy for hundreds of executives globally and spoken at several aviation conferences worldwide. He is well known for his cutting-edge research into crisis communications and social media trends.
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