Why airlines need to better align their social and word of mouth marketing

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KLM and Ryanair come out top on social media when it comes to engagement rankings for airlines serving the UK, according to a new report. Meanwhile Emirates is one of the most powerful for offline word of mouth conversations.

The rankings, by technology and data company Engagement Labs, showed that KLM topped on both Facebook and Instagram, followed by Ryanair in second place. Meanwhile on Twitter Ryaniar topped, followed by British Airways in second place.

The rankings were constructed from Engagement Labs’ proprietary eValue social media measurement tool and TalkTrack, a measurement source of word of mouth conversations from the Kelley Fay Group, also part of the Engagement Labs group.

“For airlines, social media acts as an important extension of a brand's customer service, providing an avenue for consumers to ask questions and communicate directly with the airline, at an often stressful time" said Steve Thomson, UK managing director at Keller Fay and Engagement Labs.

This makes social media a critical tool for airlines to connect with their consumers, answer questions, help mitigate challenges and respond to issues, according to Thomson. “Gone are the days of sending an email to customer service departments and waiting for a response. Social media provides consumers the opportunity to interact immediately and for brands to react accordingly, demonstrating dedication to their customers and to finding solutions,” he said.

“For the airline industry, social media is the perfect avenue to integrate marketing and brand messaging with customer service. Hence, having an understanding of how a brand is measuring online is important to ensure you have the right messages targeting your consumers,” said Thomson. However the impact of word of mouth conversations was also important, he said. “For companies to have a 360 degree view of their brand they must also understand how people are talking about them through word of mouth conversations and the sentiment behind the conversation,” said Thomson.

In this regard the study showed that KLM, although top for social media, actually ranked only sixth for word of mouth with just over half (58%) of the conversations being polite. Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, which topped for word of mouth also scored sixth when it came to social media.

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