Erin Shaw and I researched Virgin America Airlines to see how effectively they were using social media, and, to our surprise, we were completely blown away.
Not only are they dominating the seemingly obvious platforms of social media, including twitter and facebook, they have their own YouTube channel, Pinterest boards, Instagram following, philanthropic efforts, giveaways, and a frequent-flyer program that puts any before it to shame (hint: it incorporates social media and geolocation technology).
So here’s the breakdown:
-Virgin America flies to 17 destinations in the United States and Mexico, making it relatively small in terms of most airlines. So, how is it so popular? Bottom line: Social Media masterminds + knowing their audience like the back of their hand = success and an all around good time for staff and customers.
-Their main goal is, “to make flying good again,” by pairing superior service, the cushiest amenities around, and on-demand entertainment and cuisine, according to their website. How do they accomplish this? By talking to their audience, a collection of tech-savvy individuals and families that know exactly what they want and how to get it.
-They respond quickly to every tweet, both positive and negative ones. They give the phone number and website to allow you to share your experience and tell them how to improve if it wasn’t superior.
-They engage their customers by featuring giveaways (use the #FlyMoreGiveBack hashtag to earn rewards and donate to various charities), contests (example: to name their fleet of planes), philanthropic events ( such as Operation Chihuahua which flew dogs to NYC to be adopted) and much, much more. They also set up their “frequent-flyer mile” program to sync with social media platforms like foursquare (so, for example, if you “check in” anywhere for Virgin America, you receive “bonus” points that add to your “elevate” status). They’ve used this for multiple contests by having customers engage and participate in scavenger hunts and receiving deals based on where they checked in.
*Our favorite contest was the “Awkward Family Photo” contest, in which families submitted their own awkward photos, and the winners won passage aboard Virgin’s inaugural flight to Orlando, FL. (They used the knowledge that Orlando is a huge tourism city, and partnered with AwkwardFamilyPhoto.com to see just how creative their customers could get.)
What’s being said:
“’One of the things we’ve found is that even though it’s Virgin, we’re still a relatively small company, and our advertising budgets are not that big, so when we go into a new market, we like to do new and interesting things to amplify word of mouth buzz,’ says Abby Lundardini, Virgin America’s director of communications. The promotion was inspired by the Virgin team’s ‘weird sense of humor, but it was really well received, and it was the first time we had ever partnered with a social meme site,’ says Jill Fletcher, the airline’s social media manager.” (quoted from mashable article)
“‘We do feel very strongly that the conversation would happen with or without us, it really just shows that we are a listening and participating brand. I would rather have a two-way conversation with people than just a one-way dialogue happening out there,’ Porter Gale, VP of marketing at Virgin America.” (quoted from huffingtonpost article)
“Jill Fletcher, Virgin’s social media manager, told Mashable ‘70% of our bookings come from our web channels, so our fliers are really social media savvy and tech savvy.’ As a result, Virgin is quick to use new technology or platforms in the daily deals, gelocation or social networking space to reach these consumers. According to Fletcher, ‘we know that those types of campaigns resonate with our fliers.'” (quoted from The Real Time Report article)
Basically, Virgin America is using social media platforms to show their customers that they’re the new and improved PAN-AM airline, and it’s working. Don’t believe me? check out their safety video to prove they’re relatable, entertaining and knowledgeable.