Posts Tagged Social Media

4 Quick Aviation Take-Aways

Sunset Take-off (Southwest Airlines)

I hope I’m not boring my four readers with more aviation content here. The fact is, my Reader is now full of aviation-related feeds and the research I’ve been doing at work in the last 3 months is merely about the airline industry in North- and Latin America. I’ve also been spending a lot of time tracking the Social Media activities of companies in this space, both airlines and airline suppliers, and I’ve learned a lot about the intersection of aviation and new media.

The good news is, it’s really interesting stuff and I want to record it somehow, using this everlasting resource (aka my rarely updated blog). Here are some of the take-aways:

  1. Unlike North American airlines, Latin American airlines are strong, privately owned and professionally managed companies that show figures of growth and profitability (look at Gol, Avianca, TACA and Azul). The roles have switched and these airlines now represent strong competition to the legacy North American players. While Latin America is home to some of the most profitable airlines in the world, North American airlines struggle to survive and find a path towards profitability. On the other hand, North American carriers still account for 57% of the world’s domestic passenger traffic and 17% of the international passenger traffic, making it the biggest airline market in the world.
  2. Both markets show signs of consolidation; Colombia-based Avianca and El Salvador-based TACA formed a new Latin American airline powerhouse with annual revenues of over $3 billion pushing it into the top 50 airline groups in the world.  Continental’s entry to Star Alliance marked the first step of a strategic partnership with United that many believe will lead to an eventual merger.
  3. 2009 was the year Social Media became important for airlines. Although carriers like JetBlue and Southwest have been active in Social Media since years, we were amazed by the strategies airlines like Lufthansa, Virgin, Continental and Volaris implemented this year. It is all an interesting preamble of the center stage position that Social Media will have in 2010 for airlines’ marketing and communications.
  4. B2B companies in this space are struggling to find context for Social Media activities. The key here will be to clearly connect Social Media to business objectives and gain a better understanding of how to measure the direct and indirect ROI of social media. Also, I always insist on the fact that Social Media can have a direct and traceable impact on the bottom line, serving purposes like lead generation or more cost-effective communications.

I hope you will find this useful in any way possible, dear reader. Comments or additional take-aways are highly welcome.

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Volaris: Social Media Best Practice

Last week I had the tremendous opportunity to attend a very important Latin America airline leaders forum in Colombia. During the last keynote lunch, Enrique Beltranena, CEO of Mexican low cost carrier Volaris, talked about the importance of Social Media for airlines and used the example of his own company to illustrate the impact and potential that this set of new tools have as part of the marketing mix. He stated clearly that Social Media should not be used as a substitute of traditional marketing channels but rather as consistent complement of an existing strategy.

Volaris.com.mx

Volaris.com.mx

I could write a long paper just describing the wide set of innovative channels the airline uses to communicate with its customers, achieving intimacy and focusing on them rather than on their products (which also happen to be disruptive and innovative); but in this post I’ll try to concentrate on the emerging digital channels they have chosen to formally incorporate to their mix. And this takes me exactly to the first step of their strategy: As Beltranena explained showing a slide with a big amount of emerging media categories and social networks, they had to first choose which ones they’d use according to their usefulness and relevance to their overall marketing strategy. They ended up choosing the fastest growing channels in Mexico after their assessment: YouTube, Facebook, Twitterand a Volaris-branded blog (coming early 2010). The message here is that these channels won’t necessarily be the ones everybody should pick for their Social Media strategy. In each case, resourcefulness, relevance and fit should be analyzed before picking a given tool. For a different company maybe MySpace of Flickr could prove to be more efficient and adequate channels.

Then Beltranena showed this video, which, in a nutshell, answers the question of why Social Media is not a fad. The best part of the afternoon was watching the faces of important CEOs and airline leaders while they saw the video with awe and realized that they had to do something about this quickly. Hopefully, they will take the matter seriously and, like our friends at Volaris, assign (human and budgetary) resources to it and instruct their CMO to make Social Media a cornerstone of their marketing and communications strategy.

To get a feel of what Volaris is doing, go to their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels and see how they are first listening, then connecting and at the end communicating with their customers. Please note the customization of the content according to the channel and the continuity they exercise in each one of them. Also try to see how they seek a healthy amount of activity that will demonstrate engagement without bother the user with excessive tweets, posts, videos or content.

I’m proud to say that Volaris is the first Latin American airline to successfully deploy Social Media as part of an innovative and disruptive marketing strategy, setting a precedent and putting Mexico’s name and digital literacy high above. Congratulations from this humble blog to everybody making it happen.

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Tweeting the Chasm

I’ve found myself in plenty of conversations about Twitter lately (like probably everybody). These conversations are for the most part about “getting it”, people asking (me) what Twitter actually is and the pungent question they always ask: Why is it important what I’m doing? Who cares? Well, nobody cares, that’s exactly the point. Twitter shouldn’t be used to showcase trivial, out of context and irrelevant musings. Its greatness comes with everything else that it does, like opening innovation to build upon its platform or like providing this super-freshness to the web we interact with everyday.

Then I opened my (physical) mailbox one Saturday and there it was, Twitter on the cover of Time magazine. A printed proof that Twitter has crossed the chasm. I’m sure the editors regretted not waiting one more week to print that story when they saw the role Twitter played in the overwhelming coverage of the #IranElection. But, then again, that situation continued to cement Twitter’s entrance to the mass media category and find its way into more and more conversations of un-geeks and “normal people”.

The part I liked the most about the Time story was the argument they made about Twitter’s legacy as a technology and an online communication standard:

(…) the key elements of the Twitter platform — the follower structure, link-sharing, real-time searching — will persevere regardless of Twitter’s fortunes, just as Web conventions like links, posts and feeds have endured over the past decade. In fact, every major channel of information will be Twitterfied in one way or another in the coming years

As a new media geek, I’m not only convinced of this but I’m enjoying the network effects and the way this new technology has tweeted its way to the other end of the chasm. Jeremiah Owyang’s tweet (@jowyang) came very much in handy the other day:

New to twitter? Here’s a tip; answer “what’s important to me” instead of “what am i doing”

Im @bernardososa on Twitter

I'm @bernardososa on Twitter

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Groundswell on Censorship

I just started reading “Groundswell” by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff and Chapter 1 includes this hilarious take on Internet censorship:

You can’t take something off the Internet. That’s like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool.

Couldn’t agree more.

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Attending class in Second Life

Today I attended my first class in Second Life, the famous virtual world for the elective Social Networking and Virtual Worlds. It was an interesting experience and it certainly changed my skeptical perception of the uselessness of SL. Yes, I thought it was kind of absurd to spend time and money in a world that really doesn’t exist…but the truth is that today we experienced a real class, with a real speaker, with real slides and with real interaction. Just like the one you have in a real-world class. I must say that I’m positively impressed with the result of this experiment. The learning process and setup time for all attendees is still very high and complicated but I guess this can be reduced in subsequent meetings.

The guest speaker (who interestingly is physically located in New Zealand) was Mary Ellen Gordon, the CEO of Market Truths, a company that among other things assists brands and firms to understand and interact with their customers in SL. She gave examples of companies that have successfully played a role in SL and have found that there are unique and beneficial characteristics using this channel as part of a marketing mix.

Our class in SL

I want to use this post also to introduce the blogs of my classmates Deanna Briggs, Katrina Gosek and Jesse Mendenhall. Keep up the good work guys!

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