Five Ways Live Video Streaming Can Enhance Airline Marketing and Customer Service

Live video streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope have millions of users hooked already. While Meerkat was the category pioneer (and has about 2m users), Periscope – acquired by Twitter earlier this year – is arguably the category leader with a user base of 10m in under six months.

Broadcasting content in real-time is not a new concept –YouTube and other video sites have had live streaming options for a while. However, Meerkat, and now Periscope, seem to have brought it to the masses. Earlier, it was restricted to savvy internet users or interest-based audiences such as gamers – for example, Twitch, a live gaming video streaming platform has over 45m viewers per month.

What makes live streaming video appealing is the immediacy of the experience, allowing users to produce and share content simultaneously, for a live audience. Contrast this with Snapchat and Instagram – and every other social platform – which only allow content to be shared post-event.

Facebook Enters the Fray

Given the growing popularity of these apps, it is unsurprising that Facebook has announced its intentions to launch a similar service called “Live”. However, it will only be open to users with verified profiles, and accessible only through the Mentions app – which itself is only available to public figures with verified pages.

In its limited launch Facebook Live is being trialled with celebrities and is not yet open for brands (verified pages). This is soon expected to change, and airlines must be ready for when it happens.

Facebook Live would potentially be the largest avenue for airline brands to engage users with live streaming content. While Facebook has 1.5 billion users, Meerkat and Periscope have a combined user base of only 12m users. Of the two, only Periscope offers serious competition due to its integration with Twitter.

Interestingly, Facebook’s intentions to slowly roll out the platform, beginning first with celebrities, means higher quality content for viewers. This, in turn, would be ideal for image conscious airline brands, who wish to break through the clutter of streaming apps open to the masses.


Opportunities for Airline Marketing

Turkish Airlines, known for its innovative marketing efforts was the first airline to a do a full-fledged activity in the category, using Periscope to live-stream a flight from Istanbul to New York. Users were able to witness everything from crew gardens (rest areas at airports) to pre-flight checks and live in-flight service over the Atlantic Ocean. The number of viewers reached its peak when the flight went live in US airspace, and Turkish Airlines asked viewers to guess where the flight was about to land. Overall, the activity generated 292,722 likes and over 5000 new social followers for the brand.

Here are a few ways live-streaming video can enhance airline marketing and customer service efforts:

  1. Airlines can conduct exclusive, or impromptu, behind-the-scenes / Q&A sessions, featuring experts from various departments, giving an inside look at the airline to passengers.
  2. The next level of celebrity endorsements could involve moving away from carefully crafted TVCs and, instead, having special live-streaming sessions for loyal customers.
  3. A couple of years ago, Amazon pioneered the live video customer service, Mayday, that allows users to see a remote tech support person. Similarly, airlines can enhance their customer service efforts on social media – perhaps for high-value customers – by offering a live video support option.
  4. For crisis communications, live updates on social media via streaming video would make the brand appear even more human.
  5. Live announcements of upcoming products/services, route launches or even quarterly analyst calls. Exclusive content to engage the #avgeek community, and even special deals for devoted social followers.


Potential Challenges

Live-streaming video offers many opportunities for airlines to enhance their marketing efforts. However, as is true for any new service, airlines must keep an eye out for customer response and feedback as well.

  • Privacy issues can come into play if shooting outdoors. Individual privacy needs should be properly addressed to avoid legal consequences.
  • Broadcasting “live” comes inherently with the risk of the unknown, whether it is the language used, visuals shown or individuals acting inappropriately.
  • Airline brands should also ensure that the supporting infrastructure for the planned activity – internet, video, sound — is foolproof and thoroughly tested.

In the age of instant gratification, live streaming will play a vital role in digital and social marketing. However, the novelty of the “mode” i.e. live streaming, will soon wear off and the ultimate question as always will be: why should the viewer care?

How do you think airline brands can benefit from live streaming? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @simpliflying.


Vishal Mehra

Vishal Mehra

Vishal Mehra was leading Social and Digital marketing efforts at SimpliFlying from January 2015 to January 2016. A self-confessed commercial aviation geek, Vishal had led digital marketing campaigns at leading global agencies for 9 years, before finding his dream job at the intersection of aviation and digital marketing. His interests include Travelling, Technology, Podcasts (long before Serial arrived) and Beer.
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