Perhaps the coolest part of my job as de facto social media community manager for the world’s greatest airport association is following what airports are doing on their chosen social media platforms. One trend I’ve noticed of late: airports are broadening the ways they use Facebook and Twitter, and deepening the connections with their user communities as a result.
Good example: Twice in the past week, at least two airports used Facebook to post details of capital improvement programs.
As anybody in the airport biz knows, expansions are a big deal. Proponents get excited about new, more spacious terminals and the like; opponents express concerns about things like costs and added congestion.
The point is, there’s never a shortage of local discussion when it comes to deploying construction equipment at the friendly neighborhood airport. The 21st century being what it is, Facebook is a logic place to find discussions on just about anything. So kudos to McAllen Miller International (MFE) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International (MSY) for including Facebook in their capital improvement plan communications outreach efforts.
MFE posted both a link to a local article on its new capital improvement plan as well as renderings of the plan itself. McAllen’s new plan is a scaled-back version of one kicked around just a year ago, so the airport knew there would be some discussion. Its Facebook fans didn’t disappoint, weighing in with some pointed questions and helpful suggestions on how to best use the added gate space. (Seems there are more than a few budding air service development execs among MFE’s 2,000-plus Facebook followers.)
MSY posted photos of several in-progress projects, including a terminal expansion (shown below, photo courtesy of MSY and AeroPhoto) a consolidated rental car facility, and a new ARFF (on-airport firefighting) station. This is a great way of both keeping the projects in perspective for the public and showing actual progress.
To many passengers, the inconveniences that major, in-progress airport project brings–blocked access road lanes, walled-off corridors, and the like–often outweigh the big-picture benefits. By sharing a few construction shots on Facebook, MSY clearly demonstrates to an engaged group of followers the significant progress being made on several beneficial, future-shaping projects.
Pushing out flight status information, airline fare specials, and general good will are all valuable and productive uses of airport social media platforms. MFE and MSY offer stellar examples of how these platforms can be more tightly integrated into an airport’s fundamental communications outreach efforts.