What does it take for an airline to be great on social media? And is there a good way to objectively rank airlines on that front? Headed in to the 2019 edition of the World Aviation Festival Awario used its social media management tools to score 52 airlines around the globe and came up with some interesting results.
By monitoring posts and mentions across multiple social media platforms Awario hopes to help airlines answer some key customer satisfaction questions, including:
- How much are your customers enjoying the in-flight experience, and how would they rate it against a competitor’s?
- Is your customer service efficient enough, and how does it impact customer loyalty?
- What do the passengers think about your menu?
- How would they rate your cabin crew?
- What is the general public sentiment towards your brand, and how does it compare to the industry average?
While the report does not quite get to that level of detail, it does address a few key factors around sentiment and social value. The overall score numbers are far less useful than those in the sub-categories; after all, not every airline is aiming for the same goals with every channel.
Reach, Share & Sentiment
How much are people talking about an airline? And how many other people are seeing those comments? Oh, and are the comments positive or negative. Awario built a model to rank these three categories and blend the results into a single score for each airline. There are some potential flaws in the formula, as with any such rankings. For example, if the people talking about an airline have a lot of followers that makes for a high reach score, helping boost an airlines Social Media rankings, even if the comments made are negative.
Awario declared British Airways the overall winner, with American Airlines a rather distant second place. BA won big on share and reach – lots of famous people talking about the carrier helps immensely on that front. The net sentiment was only barely above even, however. That it remained positive given the IT failures of the past three months is surprising, but there it is. Perhaps not all publicity is good publicity for airlines, nor should it score so well. Then again, only eight of the fifty two carriers scored came out with a negative overall sentiment number. British Airways sits atop the bottom quartile but still came out an overall winner.
Filtering the data based on the sentiment score shows that of the top 10 airlines receiving platitudes on social channels, the best overall score was a 7th place finish by Philippine Airlines. The airlines that had happier customers also have a much smaller reach and share of voice.
For LCCs the size of the airline – and therefore its reach – also drove the rankings. AirAsia, Ryanair, Southwest Airlines and EasyJet filled out the top four rankings, even with EasyJet putting up a –20% customer sentiment score, the fourth worst of all airlines evaluated. That AirAsia bought a large portion of that reach and positive sentiment through advertising does not affect the scoring, though perhaps it should.
A hybrid score of how many people saw the good comments compared to how many saw the bad comments would be more complicated to calculate but would likely deliver a better overall impression of how an airline is perceived online.
Not every airline delivers support through its social media channels. For the airlines that do, however, prompt and accurate service is key.
While the Awario review does include response time as a measure it also makes the mistake of assuming every mention demands a response. That’s far from reality and can skew the scores negative for an airline that is smart enough to recognize it doesn’t need to engage with a rant or respond to every mention of its name.
Meals, Crew & More
The report ranks airlines based on customer sentiment about meals and crew as well, though, again, the volume of conversations is ranked equally to the sentiment. Having a ton of people talking about mostly not liking the on-board service would place an airline in the middle of the pack overall. Or, in the case of Ryanair, a ton of people talking about the crew with a net sentiment of just above average rates a second place finish overall. That’s hard to reconcile.
Overall the report is interesting, though like usual I find the raw data more valuable than the processed bits. But the general trend towards biggest=>best is not one that I’m likely to endorse. Unfortunately, however, that’s usually what more automated data analysis ends up producing.
More from the 2019 World Aviation Festival
- Are these the best airlines on social media??
- OneWeb plans faster inflight connectivity network
- SkyFive targets ATG network expansion on a global scale
- PaxEx Update: World Aviation Festival 2019