A number of leading global airlines have taken off on their 'social' flight and some are indulging in novel ways to engage with customers to build lasting relationships with them. Yes, it does mean stepping out of the corporate comfort zone and engaging real-time with the customer, but that's a feat airlines will have to achieve if they want to enhance brand equity and get a mind share of today's customer.
While some airlines have taken a lead in engaging with customers on social media and social media management, others are still wetting their feet. Among the recent innovative airline social media campaigns and initiatives are Virgin Atlantic's (VA) 'Looking for Linda', an interactive contest that got customers hooked with its unique concept; KLM's 'Meet & Seat' service where fliers can select seats alongside fellow passengers based on mutual interests in their social media profiles; and British Airways' Facebook application called 'Perfect Days' that encourages travelers to share a travel wish list and itinerary via a Facebook.
As social media takes precedence in the overall customer relationship management pie, airlines will need to look at building a large and robust resource pool that can respond to customer queries, complaints, posts and tweets round the clock.
As studies indicate, today the volume of social media communication for some of the world's leading airlines, ranges between 15,000 – 200,000 tweets and between 60,000 – 1,000,000 Facebook fans, but in the near future, the numbers will increase phenomenally. And as BBC presenter Nik Growing observes in his study, 'Skyfall of Lies and Black Swans', there is still a long way to go before airlines can actually become competent in the social media management.