How Virgin Atlantic & British Airways used Twitter during the snow disruption of 2010

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Information about How Virgin Atlantic & British Airways used Twitter during the snow...
Business & Mgmt

Published on September 17, 2012

Author: jamieriddell

Source: slideshare.net

Description

This report from 2011 looks at how consumers flocked to the Twitter accounts of Virgin Atlantic and British Airways during the snow disruption of late 2010, and how the brands reacted.

BirdSong BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brands Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com1 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012 www.birdsongdtt.com

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brandsDigital Tomorrow Today, established in 2010 by Introducing BirdSongJamie Riddell, works with brands to future prooftheir marketing strategies. BirdSong combines API data with custom built reporting. It providesThis week the company launches BirdSong, rapid insight into Twitter trends anda bespoke new product which gives greater behaviour, which in turn can enableinsight on how to optimise Twitter strategies in clients to keep their tactics relevantthe competitive marketplace. This is in response and fresh.to a growing need by marketers for moreintegrated qualitative and quantitative data on For example, it can answer questions such as:Twitter usage. • When is the best time of day for my brand to Speaking on the launch, Jamie Riddell says, tweet to existing customers?“It is clear that, with over 200 millions users • What is the best day of week for engagement?worldwide Twitter is becoming an increasingly • When are my competitors most active or important part of the marketing mix. However, inactive?the clients that we speak to are concerned about • How many of my followers are also following the lack of cohesive research on how, when my competitors?and where their audiences are engaging with it. • How are my followers accessing Twitter They are also very interested to know how their (mobile, desktop, television)?competitors are using the platform. • What software are my followers using? (Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite)?We have developed BirdSong to give brands • What software are my competitors using?the right information to create more powerful • Are my competitors tracking their links?Twitter campaigns. We were particularly • Do my followers click on my biography link?interested in understanding consumer behaviourand usage, and how this could be used to fine And much more …tune direct marketing activity. There are lotsof tools already available, which give separate Reports can be provided as frequently aspieces of the information puzzle, but putting clients require. Digital Tomorrow Today canthem together is time consuming even before also provide ongoing consultation on how tothe analysis can begin. BirdSong provides an optimise campaigns as part of the brand’s widerintegrated source of information that is much marketing mix.quicker and easier to use.” BirdSong is the first of our proprietary solutions to help advertisers harness emerging channels. Further announcements will be made in the future. For more information contact Jamie Riddell jamie@digitaltomorrowtoday.com @jamieriddell www.birdsongdtt.com2 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brandsBirdSong Case Study: BackgroundHow did British Airways and Virgin Atlantic use December 2010 was a difficult time forTwitter to support their customers during heavy travellers. Both London and New York sufferedsnow in December 2010? major disruptions due to the snow, which left thousands of passengers stranded at airports.December 2010 was a difficult time for Using BirdSong, we researched the tweets fromtravellers. Both London and New York Airports both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic tosuffered major disruptions due to the snow, understand how they used Twitter towhich left thousands of passengers stranded at communicate with their customers during theairports. disruption.Digital Tomorrow Today used BirdSong to take Methodologyan in depth look at how the two airlines usedTwitter to communicate with their customers Three Twitter accounts were reviewed, all ofduring this challenging period. We were which were active during this period:interested to find out what strategies eachbrand had employed and what was the visible • Twitter.com/virginatlanticimpact on their Twitter presence during and • Twitter.com/britishairways (North America)after the event. • Twitter.com/british_airways The following elements were analysed in this report: 1. Frequency of Tweets 2. Day of Week 3. Daypart 4. Profile of Tweets 5. Message Content 6. Identification of Support Giver 7. Follower Trends The data period for this analysis was the 16th December and 24th December 2010. The date range covers the immediate run up to, during and after the snow disruption. The days of greatest disruption were the 19th, 20th and 21st December. www.birdsongdtt.com3 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brands1. Frequency of TweetsThe graph below shows the volume of tweets by brand by day. The data from the two BritishAirways accounts have been combined.During December 2010, British Airways was typically tweeting on average 9 times per day buton the 20th and 21st of December, they increased the volume to just over 50 tweets per day(a 5.5 fold increase). After the 21st December, tweet volumes fell back to their original levels.Virgin Atlantic looked to be quicker in response to the disruption, with greater tweet volumesstarting on the 19th and rising to a peak of 460 tweets on the 21st December (a 38 foldincrease). Prior to this, their typical tweet volume during December was around 12 per day.2. Day of Week AnalysisOnly the british_airways account specifies itshours of tweeting in its biography.Both brands, across the three accounts havehistorically not tweeted during weekendsdespite having busy weekend flight schedules.However, on the weekend of the 18th/19thDecember all three accounts were active.British Airways didn’t really fire up their activity until the Sunday, recording 29 tweets on thatday. They moved into a higher gear on the Monday with over 50 tweets posted.The Virgin Atlantic team were quicker off the mark, posting 50 tweets on the Saturday, risingto 221 tweets on the Sunday and 460 tweets on Monday 21st, the highest number of tweetsever recorded on this account. After this, they managed a consistently greater presence thantheir competitor until the following weekend.The strategy of no weekend tweets has since resumed across all three accounts. www.birdsongdtt.com4 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brands3. Day Part AnalysisBefore the disruption, both British Airways andVirgin Atlantic were predominantly tweetingduring office hours. However, during the disruptionboth airlines were active (almost) aroundthe clock.On all accounts we can see twitter replies beingposted across the day and night.Above are the day part profiles of tweets by theBritish Airways North America (left) and Global(right) accounts between 19th and 21st December.Note the emphasis on mainly office hours for NorthAmerica and from 8 ‘til Midnight in the UK.The profile for Virgin Atlantic during the sameperiod shows that the brand was active onTwitter across the 24-hour clock. It would appearthat Virgin was responding to the needs of itscustomers rather than working to preestablishedservice hours. www.birdsongdtt.com5 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brands4. Profile of TweetsFor the purposes of this analysis we categorised tweets as either proactive or reactive.Proactive are defined as Tweets that were not replies to incoming requests or comments.These were typically status or promotional messages.Reactive are defined as Tweets that were made in direct response to an information request.During the monitored period, 92.5% of all BA Tweets and 93.9% of all Virgin Atlantic Tweetswere responsive. The profiles were very similar.British’Airways’vs’Virgin’Atlantic’Tweets5. Message ContentThe majority of the tweets from British Airways over the reported period appeared to bepromoting the url for the status website or the call centre number. This may be due to lack ofallocated resource on the Twitter account.The brand’s Twitter strategy seemed to focus on directing its customers back to the websiteor telephone rather than dealing directly with their questions via this platform. However, wecould see from the tweets that customers were struggling to get through on the telephone andthat the call centres were handling unprecedented volumes of calls. It is possible that somecustomers were using Twitter because they couldn’t get through on the ‘phone. www.birdsongdtt.com6 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brandsA’snapshot’of’BA’tweets’during’the’review’periodVirgin Atlantic was also promoting the flight status page and the call centre as a means fortheir passengers to get more information. However, we could also see more emphasis on theteam trying to answer their customers’ questions. They were more likely to addresscustomers by their first name, which was, in our view, admirable and more personable. Theywere quick to apologise for the problems their customers were experiencing.A’snapshot’of’Virgin’Atlantic’tweets’during’the’review’period www.birdsongdtt.com7 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brandsPromotional MessagesDuring this period, two promotionalmessages were tweeted from BritishAirways. One was a sale offer, theother a foodies guide to Buenos Aries(on the 20th December, later deleted),posted between a number of statusupdates and apologies for thedisruption.These were probably scheduledtweets but their messages appearedto jar with the obvious discomfort ofpassengers.British Airways however was quick toapologise.No promotional messages were seenfrom the Virgin Atlantic account.6. Identification of Support GiverBritish Airways, whilst using CoTweet, did not opt to identify support staff.Virgin Atlantic was actively identifying the support person answering tweets. Whilst this wasnot on every tweet, we assume Virgin Atlantic had a key staff of ‘H, G & K’ on customerservice. This identification was coupled with a more personal approach, attempting to addresseach reply with the person’s name. www.birdsongdtt.com8 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brands7. Follower TrendsAt the end of October Virgin Atlantic had 18,339 followers compared to 67,738 for British AirwaysNorth America and 24,757 for British Airways Global.Between October and December Virgin Atlantic followers grew by 10%, @britishairways growing 7.7%and @ british_airways almost 10%.Heading into December, the growth rates were steady until the heavy snowfalls, with disruptionpeaking on the 21st December. Literally overnight, the follower count for all airlines leaped, adding asmany followers in a night, as they had gained in two months.Virgin Atlantic experienced by far the highest growth, its follower count leaping 11% overnightcompared to 3% for both British Airways accounts.This leap can clearly be attributed to consumers turning to Twitter for news and support during thedisruptions.British Airways’and’Virgin’Atlantic’Twitter’Account’GrowthConclusionsWhilst this is only a snapshot of both brands’ Twitter activity, we can see consumers were turning toTwitter for brand support during this bout of severe disruption.Both brands enjoyed an increase in Twitter followers but Virgin saw the greatest percentage rise. Thenew followers have not since unfollowed the airlines, which suggests that these events do presentcompanies with the opportunity to increase their twitter base and gain loyalty.The Tweet clouds also points to the different strategies taken by the airlines. The key message fromBritish Airways tweets was to check the flight status by telephone or visit the website. Virgin Atlanticseemed to be going for a more personal angle, trying to deal with responses on Twitter itself. VirginAtlantic was also quicker to gear up its Twitter resource to cope with the demand for information.British Airways also ramped up its responses and presence but seemed less able to deal with directquestions from its customers. www.birdsongdtt.com9 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

BirdSongTwitter benchmarking for brandsKey Learning1. In the event of serious disruption, connected consumers will increasingly turn to Twitter forinformation and support. Airlines need to be prepared for such events by allocating resource andtraining to ensure questions can be dealt with constructively. Where possible, brands should endeavorto have trained staff available to deal with these situations 24/7 or to be able to on backup staffat short notice. With a constant Twitter stream, an hour can seem like a long time for a frustratedcustomer.2. Consumers looking to connect on Twitter may be doing so because the telephone lines are busyor the website does not offer the correct information. They may also be connecting through Twitterfor greater perceived immediacy of information or personal reassurance. Directing these consumersback to a telephone number or website will defeat the purpose of connection. Delivering helpful andpersonal responses in the customer’s chosen platform will help build brand loyalty.3. In such an event, brands should check that they don’t have any promotional messagesscheduled. Whilst these can be apologized for, and later deleted, they may jar with the frustrated orinconvenienced customer.4. Wherever possible, connect with the customers on a personal level. In most cases the brand tweeterwill know the customers, using them will add greater connection and empathy.5. Twitter is viral. Bad service will be retweeted more quickly and more widely than good service.The Bigger PictureA BirdSong report such as this can only take into consideration what is seen in the public eye.It cannot review private direct messages, nor does it have access to call logs and or communicationspolicies during this time.Working with brands directly, BirdSong can help identify an important part of the picture whichin turn will help further define and improve a brands’ twitter presence as part of the wider marketingmix.Future versions of BirdSong will include additional data such as ‘Missed Calls’ – identifyingthe number of tweets brands did not respond to. It will also examine day and day partbehavior of brand followers and Twitter software being used.Contact Details@jamieriddell@digitomorrowbirdsong@digitaltomorrowtoday.com www.birdsongdtt.com10 / BirdSong Twitter benchmarking for brands www.birdsongdtt.com / July 2012

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