European airlines are more engaging whereas their American competition is more open to fan queries! Turbulence in the industry?
According to our study, Airlines are the second most Socially Devoted industry on Facebook. From March 1st – May 30th 2012, their global Facebook Pages answered up to 55% of the 30 thousand questions posted by their customers and fans to their walls. They are relatively Socially Devoted. But can they deliver engaging content and healthy social dialogue? And if so, which airlines are more successful: American or European?
We compared the Top 10 biggest Facebook pages in Europe and North America to evaluate which airlines have been more engaging in the last three months (May 20th – August 20th 2012). Although European airlines are bigger in size by number of fans, they have managed to generate more interactions (Likes, Shares, Comments) and higher Engagement Rates. This had to be challenging considering that you need to engage more people. American airlines on the other hand have received more posts, questions and feedback from customers and fans in the last three months. But are these Facebook pages listening and do they even have an open wall?
American airlines seem to be listening to their fans with open (ears) walls, but we found out that about 18% of European airlines are closed to fan posts. For example, British Airways and Turkish airline Onur Air are leading an unsocial monologue. That’s why American airlines received over 15 thousand more wall posts and can be recognized as more Socially Devoted than European providers.
German Airlines Lufthansa has the second biggest airline page with almost 1.2 million Facebook fans, whereas US Airways have only something over 42 thousand Likes (24th in the American ranking by size). One would assume that one of the largest US airlines would have more fans and better customer service. They claim to be on Facebook between 11 AM and 8 PM (ET) during the weekdays, but a look at their wall will disappoint you, as most of the fan feedback and questions get ignored.
US Airways and Lufthansa have both reached a high Engagement Rate during the last three months (around 28% which is above average – it’s considered good from 20% upwards) and they have achieved this in both cases by posting photos. US Airways generated a lot of interactions (922 Likes, 340 Shares and 72 Comments) using a picture of assistance dogs on their flight from the airline’s Puppies In Flight program (below) – cute animals can increase an airline’s Engagement Rate as proven in Virgin America’s case after announcing that the internet’s cutest dog, Boo, became the airline’s Official Pet Liaison.
But in the long run, Lufthansa is more engaging than US Airways thanks to their visually strong and consistent content. Photos of modern or historical airplanes and beautiful destinations generated 281 221 interactions in the last three months. The airline also reflects current topics, for example: they posted a picture of an airplane in the sky with one of Neil Armstrong´s famous quotes: “Pilots take no special joy in walking. Pilots like flying.” when he died.
American airlines are working hard to catch up with their European competition. Volaris has always been known as the “good guy” and United Airlines as the “bad guy” in social media. How are they doing now?
United Airlines has the 4th biggest Facebook page (363 428 fans) which is a huge success considering that they had an extremely bad social media reputation back in 2008. In July that year, Dave Caroll traveled with his band ‘Sons of Maxwell’ to Nebraska for a one-week tour and as he settled in his seat, he witnessed his guitar being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers. The singer´s guitar got severely damaged but he wasn’t compensated even after 9 long months. He was so frustrated that he decided to write and produce a song about his experience called United breaks guitars. It instantly became a viral hit, but it took United Airlines a whole week to react to the video.
Their lack of social media readiness caused a 10% decrease in stock price not to mention the humiliation caused by over 12 million YouTube views to date. This case just shows how one unhappy customer can negatively impact on your business when you don’t deliver adequate customer care, which is becoming a more and more essential and integral part of social marketing.
The Volaris social media management team is not only dedicated to responding to its fans and being Socially Devoted, butt also runs very effective campaigns designed to maximize user engagement and participation. In July 2012, they launched the ‘We are the Owners of the Sky’ campaign challenging fans to post pictures that they took on board Volaris airlines. They received nearly 800 pictures during the first hour which they then organized into very popular and engaging photo albums!
Volaris is also very active in posting engaging content about various programs and events that they are sponsoring. Plus they ask their fans to cooperate and post content related to this event which only illustrates their devotion to using social media as a two-way communication stream.
As you can see from the tables below, photos proved to be the most engaging post type working well for both American and European airlines. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and people seem to be so overloaded by news and texts every day, that they often welcome a simpler and more expressive way of communication.
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