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Why Airlines Are Cruising on Social Media

AirplaneIn the past year most major airlines have made the initiative to take off on social media, launching a variety of social efforts to connect with their fliers. In lieu of the recent news about American Airlines, the importance of social media to the aviation industry is more apparent now than ever.

For anyone that is still questioning the power of monitoring social media, take a look at American Airlines.

It was announced in October that based on Amplicate's social media analytics report that American Airlines is the most hated US airline.

The report stated that only 12-percent of the comments about American Airlines were actually positive. Let me put it this way, that is almost 90-percent negative feedback. 

And today the parent company of American Airlines, AMR Corporation, announced that they are filing for bankruptcy.

American Airlines Goes Bankrupt, Could Social Media Have Prevented This?

Social media marketing is a proactive effort that [if executed effectively] should help your business stay ahead of the game. This is why AMR's attempt at a social media campaign earlier this year was never going to prevent the imminent crash that was announced today.

Though social media can be reactive and companies should be responsive to trends and public opinion, it should not be a game of catch up.

American Airlines isn't the only US airline that has been experiencing turbulence in business. Amplicate found that 57-percent of all comments about American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and US Airways were negative. American Airlines just happened to be the worst.  

According to the American Customer Satsifaction Index: American Airlines, Delta, US Airways and United Airlines all rank in the top ten most hated companies in America.

So is it another surprise that Delta, United and US Airways have also all filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcies in past recessions?

In 2007 a prominent neuropsychologist compared flying to passing through a riot. Travelling and flying are relatively stressful experiences for most. Most US airlines make little effort to alleviate that stress and fliers are not afraid to share their frustrations and woes on the social network of their choice.

The correlation between the three most loved airline carriers and their strong social media presence is no coincidence. Virgin Atlantic, Jet Blue and Southwest have been developing their social media presence and have committed to innovation in customer service and community.

Social media isn't the magical answer to a failing business model. But it should be a facilitator for communication, support and quality assurance.

How Airlines Use Social Media

If any of the US airlines that have had issues with Chapter 11 in the past want to avoid more problems with bankruptcy they should invest more time in customer satisfaction and social media should be a vital component in ascertaining these goals.

Join The Conversation

  • Nov 29 Posted 5 years ago Constance

    My company is actually in talks with an airline company ( can't name yet) to promote them on the web using social media! Of course with the news of American Airlines........ any good promotion is good promotion.   It's great that the airline industry is finally taking available of the web because this is where a lot of people come to to read reviews and what people have to say about where they should fly and what airline they should use.   My company magicbuz engages in users all over the internet creating conversations about the product and what the people are using today.  Our marketing on the internet has really caught on and I think thats why airlines are coming to us!

  • Nov 29 Posted 5 years ago racingwinds

    This post confused me. You argue that increased social interaction could improve American's perception to the public and then list the airlines which make up part of America's top-ten most hated companies.

    This argument is invalid. You link social interactions directly to public perception, but Delta Air Lines is an outlier. They provide personalized, effective, and timely customer service via Twitter, and are extremely active in setting standards and expectations. But yet they remain on the list for whatever reason.

    American Airlines has long battled labor disputes, high fuel costs, and perhaps even ineffective management of debts. Their perception to the public does not affect any of the aforementioned issues. 

    I generally agree with your point that airlines should be interactive and engaged on Twitter, and also that American could improve their presence socially. But Twitter is not American's answer to bankruptcy. I interpreted this post the same as Stephanie did, and am under the impression that you are writing that American could have avoided bankruptcy by having a better social strategy. Is this correct?

  • SGehman's picture
    Nov 29 Posted 5 years ago SGehman

    You do realize that American Airlines has been quite active on social media for many months?  First as @AAirwaves, and after their handle change, now as @AmericanAir?  Also, they're on twitter promoting and engaging via @AAdvantage regarding their long-standing loyalty program.  

    I commented on your piece as it comes across as indicating that American Airlines attempted to save themselves from bankruptcy from failed attempts at social engagement.   Am I incorrectly digesting what you've written?  


  • marymanzo's picture
    Nov 29 Posted 5 years ago marymanzo

    I wasn't saying that social media is the magical fix, I actually say in my article that it isn't. And I completely agree with you, bad customer satisfaction isn't what caused this debt. Other factors have caused the current state of the American aviation industry.

    Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy will help American Airlines restructure the company's costs and debt. AMR, unlike many of the other US airlines, has tried to avoid filing for bankruptcy for a while now. And it is because of this that their costs and fees are much higher than other US carriers. I am not saying that oil costs and unions and debts haven't had impacts on this decision from American Airlines.

    What I am saying is that social media is more important to certain industries and one of those industries is the airlines. Social media is also not going to get American Airlines out of this predicament but actively using social media will help American Airlines improve sales and the public's perception. 

  • SGehman's picture
    Nov 29 Posted 5 years ago SGehman

    While I find the stats you present partially relevant, I find this post short-sighted on the number of factors that contribute to an airline's bankruptcy.  As someone who has worked in the aviation industry (focused on marketing and customer service) for a number of years, I do wholy understand the need to focus on the customer's statisfaction.  However, that is not the sole reason that airlines file for bankruptcy, nor is social media (no matter how entrenched in an airline's marketing strategy) going to be the magical fix either.

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