Archive for February, 2011

AFI Article

This was noted via Twitter back when the article came out, but I wanted to note it here on the blog as well. I was humbled to be among the contributing writers featured in the inaugural issue of Airport Focus International. I was even more pleased to write about social media.

Click to view the full digital publication online

I learned quite a bit while researching the piece, and was able to relay a few cool stories about how social media gained a foothold at a couple of airports. I also was handed a stellar checklist that airports should have handy when planning or evaluating their social media strategy. The list, courtesy of Aviation Week online community manager Rupa Haria, is reprinted here:

Observe. Spend a few weeks looking at how other businesses do it. Look at your competitors, other airports and airlines (she touts British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand on Twitter specifically). Then step away from aviation and see how other service industries do it. It’s worth observing service-orientated businesses such as restaurant groups.
Experiment. Each airport has a different type of audience. If yours focuses on business travelers, remember that they’re time-pressed and probably want factual information, and fast. If your focus is on low-cost carriers, you’ll be attracting passengers looking for bargains. Work with your airline customers to better promote any last-minute offers or fares.

Collaborate. Most airports don’t have enough news to feed social media platforms on an hourly basis. By collaborating with airline and concession partners, you can keep your passengers informed of offers and updates while simultaneously keeping your social media feeds fresh.

Engage. Social media is a two-way communication tool, not an opportunity for an organization to just post hyperlinks to press releases. Discuss and converse with your community, but most importantly, keep it relevant.

Be human. “I personally don’t agree with too much informality when a person is representing her brand, but at the same time, responses shouldn’t look like they’ve been red-penned by the legal department,” says Haria.

Be careful. Always remember that whatever you write is being broadcast to potentially millions of people. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. If you’re empowering a team to handle social media, draft some basic guidelines outlining the do’s and don’ts. That way, there’s little room for interpretation.

Prepare for crisis. When you encounter a crisis, the first place people will likely be talking about you is on Twitter. If your crisis communications plan involves lengthy approval processes for media statements, revise them to empower your “online voice” to make that decision and responsibly Tweet about what’s going on.

Remember your manners. – Silence is deafening. In an online environment, it’s important to make sure you’re ahead of the game and talking about yourself when others are, 24 hours a day. Social media cannot be seen as a 9 – 5 job. Make sure someone is at least monitoring the online world whilst your customers are still awake.

Check out the entire article by clicking here (or on the cover image above) and flipping to page 29.


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The only thing better than a traveler happy about traveling is a traveler happy about traveling through your airport.

Some airports out there offer luggage tags or other trinkets for their social media fans, and those are stellar. But if I’m an airport marketing communications person, I’m stealing this idea (or, at the very least, teaming up with my dominant carriers to share this idea) yesterday.

More on KLM Surprise here, and the company also put it on a custom Facebook tab. Yep, stellar stuff.

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San Francisco International Airport’s “I Wanna Go Through SFO” campaign snagged third place in the “Best Use of Social Media” category in the 2010 FlightGlobal Webbies. Folks were all atwitter (and aFacebook and aEverything else) when this ad came out–so desperate was the media for input on the unusual tack of an airport going on the offensive that some reporters even called me.

While all airports are linked together forming part of one big system (think 32 teams making up one National Football League), there are certainly pairs or groups of airports that, due to myriad factors (geography, international hub size, etc.) find themselves competing for customers  (think Jets vs. Giants up there in New Jerse..er, I mean New York). Such situations tend to breed creative marketing strategies…and sometimes, those strategies involve taking jabs at the competition. Why should the airport world be any different?

At the end of the day, airports are usually united on big-picture things like the need to invest in infrastructure. (One airport is no good if there aren’t other good airports out there for its airlines to fly to.)  A little creative, friendly back-and-forth on a more local level is fun to see sometimes.

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The other day, while doing a bit of research for a grad school project, I came across this cool retro magazine ad posted on Northrop Grumman’s Twitter page. The tweet was surrounded by more useful (and certainly more current) content, but this tweet–and the image connected to it–struck a nerve with me, and left me wanting more.

In other words, for me, it was sticky.

Image galleries are excellent ways to post easy sticky content–especially for airports. Shots of old terminals, bygone airplanes on the ramp–heck, even new advertisements, like the one below from Jacksonville International Airport’s Facebook page.

The point is, creating sticky content doesn’t necessarily mean creating new content or expensive content. Got a stack of old photos tucked away somewhere depicting how your airport used to be? Scan some in and post away. Did you spend a lot of money on a new brochure or series of print ads? Post images of them online, whether it’s on Facebook or a purpose-built service like Flickr.

And when you do, please let me know–I’d love to come take a look.

UPDATE: Five minutes after publishing this post, I came across the ad below, posted on McAllen Airport’s Facebook page. That right there is gold…


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…the community leverages it for a little bit of marketing.

Our friends at Akron-Canton Airport bought a new piece of snow-removal equipment recently, and they shopped locally:

I’m not sure how much the folks at Akron Tractor know about tractors, but I’m sure of this: they know a little bit about marketing.

CAK’s Facebook page is closing in on 20,000 “Likes.” CAK has the foresight to let anyone post on its wall.

One result? Synergy like this: a local business gets a bit of well-earned promotion by plugging its good service to a community heavyweight (the airport). CAK gets de facto, unsolicited props for sourcing a key piece of hardware from a local business–plus a cool picture on its Facebook wall. (Snow-blower, schmo-blower…I want me a tractor so I can get me a Snowblast.)

Sure, open Facebook walls may attract the occasional customer gripe or poor review of your product or service. Dealing with those (and of course your social media plan should lay out parameters for doing just that) is well worth the upside, such as happy vendors and engaged fans.

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