As I follow numerous companies and organizations on various social media platforms, I have come to understand that I prefer some of them more than the others for how they handle business. One of my favorite company to follow is Canadian air carrier: West Jet. I believe they have one of the strongest and most-up-to-date Canadian social media strategies, they keep up with current practices, and that they never cease to try to improve.
West Jet is present on Facebook, Twitter, You-tube, Instagram, LinkedIn, has its own app, and maintains a blog as well as publishing a monthly magazine for reading on flights. I see more traffic on Facebook and Twitter for West Jet but that does not mean they do not use the other platforms. They probably come to the conclusion that the bulk of their clientele uses Facebook and Twitter so they focus more time on those two. The amount of daily Twitter exchanges between West Jet and travelers exceeds the 500 everyday and WestJet is not afraid to retweet, answer and exchange with their customers. Facebook is utilized to announce contests, latest news and promotions. Facebook and Twitter are also linked with the WestJet Youtube channel. WestJet produces its own videos (the Christmas Miracles and April’s Fool jokes videos probably being the most popular) about the many destinations they have, their community involvement, and some educational /entertainment clips. They involve their employees (called WestJetters) in their efforts; they have fun and are not afraid to share and show it. It is part of the WestJet culture and it is good for the customers to see it. With the help of a video, Westjet announced the creation of its own tartan to celebrate their new route to Scotland.
They also partnered up with Disney (they have an entire plane painted with Mickey Mouse), the Toronto Blue Jays (at the Rogers Centre, there is a section painted with WestJet colours called the ‘Flight Deck’, and again, for all of those, WestJet uses Twitter, Facebook, Instragam and Youtube to publicize and advertize their partnerships.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of the airline industry, I believe that United Airlines is in need of a better and updated social media strategy. The overhaul starts with their outdated website: icons are missing, their Youtube channel and Instagram feed are not publicized and the information is not simple to find. The website would need a facelift which would include an icon and a link for each of their missing platforms. As a matter of fact, if you Google United, their Google profile shows more platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Youtube) than their own website.
To make matter worst, United is fighting against a terrible reputation – worst airline – and are known for their poor customer service. We should all remember the famous United Breaks Guitars video. Halifax’s musician Dave Carroll’s song about his experience with the airline went viral in 2009 and two more videos came after that. His career grew exponentionally (he even wrote a book about social media and the power his video had) and created numerous business/ social media studies.
In order to improve their social media presence, United would benefit from adapting their thinking to put the customer forward. On their Facebook page, you can see that they are trying to reach out and help their customers by answering some of their concerns, but is it too little too late? When you look on Youtube, comments that are left on the various United videos are not very flattering, lots of complains about indifference, lack of care and concern, and a lot of Sorry but we can’t help you. Would a social media tune up be enough to change this airline’s status? United should review their current strategy, get their employees in love with customer service, and do a bit of appreciative inquiry. By putting the customer at the centre of their plan, it might be the start of a culture shift. Just enough to finally take off.