formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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March 20, 2012 Aviation and Social Media

The Liberty Gazette
March 20, 2012
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: Tweet! Tweet! It’s not just for birds anymore. On Twitter, one “tweets.” Tweeting is one modern-day method of getting real-time information to a target audience, and it’s done in very small amounts – micro-blogging. Social media has become more than just Facebook, and more than just personal. Businesses using social media have found the new marketing and public relations methods, although carried out through different channels, essentially operate most successfully by employing traditional standards. Experience within the aviation community has funneled the proper use of social media into a couple of categories. Some companies find it best to use Twitter, Facebook, and others for purposes of announcements and deal offers, while others use these real-time electronic methods to obtain feedback from customers, to engage them.

While many companies are still finding their way through the learning curve, what’s certain is the importance of how and what a company chooses to tweet. For one company, opening up the lines of communication with customers by asking for feedback can be (and has been) potentially embarrassing, because once a customer’s has been sent, all subscribers are able to see it. But these methods of communication can also work very well, and the aviation industry is jumping aboard like gangbusters. There’s even a social media boot camp for aviation businesses to hone their skills at reputation management. While some 200 airlines are already using some form of social media, airports and aviation related businesses located on airports – called FBOs – have been more cautious.

The Akron-Canton airport in Ohio was one of the first airports to begin tweeting, and on Valentine’s Day this year their public relations strategies were stellar. I saw several tweets throughout the day as they handed out treats to passengers, and by the end of the day they posted a link on Twitter to a video they’d taken of their innovative ideas and posted on YouTube, and tweeted, “What an amazing V-day at CAK! We gave away 500 cupcakes, 300 carnations, and hundreds of Cinnabons and cups of coffee!” Customers posted messages all day long about the great experience coming to the Akron-Canton Airport, adding to the positive image that airport already enjoys. So for those who “followed” the airport on Twitter, they would have seen messages about sweet treats awaiting them upon arrival.

In last month’s publication “Business Standard” Priyanka Joshi wrote, “Twitter plays a vital role in customer relations and engagement while their customers are at the airport as well as while offering specific deals to targeted users.” In fact, it is estimated that 40 per cent of airlines are expanding their social media teams, bringing in employees from marketing, customer service, e-commerce, corporate communications and other departments.

While electronic social media is still relatively new, successful implementation relies on the core standards and philosophies of traditional marketing and public relations. So while we might think younger employees will be more adept at using social media for marketing, without a good understanding of marketing principles a careless plan, haphazard tweeting, posting, or messaging can be disastrous. The traditional marketing professional knows how to build a successful campaign and only has to learn these new methods of communication.

I enjoy watching the many tweets of airports, FBOs, airlines, aviation writers and consultants and many others in the industry embarking on new media.

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