The travel industry is turning to social media in order to build relations with customers and to promote its services. During the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in April, airlines, airports and travel agencies successfully used social media to communicate with travellers. Twitter was one of the channels that many used to update customers about delays and cancelled flights. Companies that tweeted actively quickly gained a large number of new followers, as seen in the presentation below, which would indicate that customers find it useful to follow companies on Twitter.
Another great social media case from the travel industry is the Twitter application by Lufthansa, called MySkyStatus. The site lets users automatically share flight information via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, while in the air. The site is now open for travellers on all major airlines and everytime someone uses MySkyStatus they are greeted by the message “Powered by Lufthansa”. It’s a great way to add value to travellers and at the same time expose the brand to thousands of potential customers. To date, the site has distributed more than 400,000 status updates (81,000 on Facebook and 21,000 on Twitter).
Yet another example, soon to launch, is Topguest.com, a site that rewards travellers that frequently check in on hotels and other places using location based services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. According to USA Today and CNET, Topguest has launched a preview version that includes a co-operation with hotel chain Standard. Guests that check in using Topguest get a discount:
- Social-media addicts who check into each of Standard’s four hotels in New York, Miami and Los Angeles in the span of one week will earn a free week at any one of the hotels.
- You could also check in to Standard establishments – whether restaurants, bars, shops or the hotel spa – 10 times and receive 25% off your reservation.
The Swedish travel agencies Ving and Fritidsresor are actively answering questions from customers on their Facebook pages and they use Twitter to distribute promotions. There are many other good cases from the travel industry, which seems to be one of the industries that are most actively embracing social media. Other companies take note.
Swedish businesses are starting to explore Twitter with varying degree of success. SMS loan company Folkia recently launched its Twitter account and quickly added several hundred users to follow, something that was discussed on Jaiku. It also published only promotional information about their own services and a few days later the account got suspended.
The same strategy was used by Myspace Nordic which added some 2,000 people in a few days. This procedure is called “aggressive following” (a large number of people are followed in a short amount of time) and is one reason (update: new link) a Twitter account may get suspended.
With these incidents in mind, here’s 10 advice for businesses that are about to engage on Twitter (parts of this is also published in Dagens Industri today).
- Be clear about who the sender is. Is this the official Twitter channel then make that clear. If you can specify who is doing the tweeting it will be easier to get a more personal relationship with the company and it will also set the right expectations.
- Twitter is a great tool for listening to customers and for dialogue in general. Answer direct questions and comments that are directed to the company on Twitter.
- Give your followers something of value for following you. Share your knowledge, both from your own company but also from other sources. Excessive linking to your own site might be considered spam.
- Retweet good tips from others. It shows your are willing to give cred to others and that you are up to date on things within your line of work.
- Use common sense. All information (apart from Direct Messages) are public so normal confidentiality rules still apply.
- Respect the privacy of others. Just because you have heard that transparency is the new black, that doesn’t mean it is ok to tweet about colleagues without their approval.
- Add other sources of information to your Twitter feed if you think they are of value to your followers. It might be press releases, Flick photos, YouTube videos or promotional offers. But be careful, a feed with just press releases is extremely boring.
- Don’t ask for retweets, unless you are posting a question you want many to see. That’s something you deserv by posting interesting information.
- Don’t start following hundreds of people at once. It is called aggressive following and is one reason your account may be suspended by Twitter. But adding a small number of interesting people may be a good way to start building your network.
- Avoid ghost twittering if you can. You can support the person in many ways but in the end the words should be his/her own.
Here are some examples of Swedish businesses on Twitter (many taken from a list on Webbsverige).
Telia Sonera Services