Hey, Air India…Check out Jet Blue!
I have not yet been to India. I reserve the “yet” for those far-away places that continue to intrigue me for reasons that are both silly (i.e. Eat, Pray, Love) and soulful. I have refrained from visiting many mystical lands due to my fear-turned-mild dislike of flying. (Many questions and answers to and from pilots and flight attendants account for the upgrade to dislike.) Also, I somehow feel the more “friendly” the airline, the better for my superstitious travel worries. Jet Blue seems friendly, and so does Virgin Airlines.
When I plan overseas trips, I take some sort of pride flying with the airlines that are based in the various countries. Lufthansa was the first, and many would follow; therefore, on my now hypothetical trip to India, I would turn first to Air India.
How is Air India reaching new customers like me? Right now, primarily via its name and website. Air India’s website, www.airindia.com helps me with flight info, arrivals and departures, etc…but doesn’t really engage me much further.
Air India certainly has bragging rights, as it is India’s largest and oldest airline, founded in 1932. The airline serves Asia, Europe and North America, with hubs in Frankfurt and London. As of 2011, Air India will be a member of the exclusive Star Alliance, an organization that “provides a true end-to-end service for frequent flyers to ensure a convenient, smooth and efficient worldwide travel experience.” Now, with this information, let’s look at a comparison between Air India and Jet Blue to see how each airline is engaging new and existing customers via Social Media networking:
Air India Social Media Stats:
The Air India Facebook page boasts 1,939 fans…not bad, but not great, as India boasts 81 million Internet users. These users represent 7.1 percent of the country, and 4.7% of the world’s Internet users, according to www.internetworldstats.com.
The Air India Twitter account has attracted 109 followers. This stat deserves a revamp in strategy…immediately.
Jet Blue Social Media Stats:
Jet Blue boasts 277,741 fans on Facebook.
Jet Blue has attracted 1,594,496 Twitter followers.
Jet Blue has 62,543 followers on its Twitter account created to publicize low fares.
Jet Blue shares photos on Flickr, allowing visitors to comment and friend each other.
Jet Blue also joins the conversation online. One potential Jet Blue customer, Konstantin Shatnyy, asked if his long legs would fit in Jet Blue seats. Within hours, a Jet Blue employee wrote back assuring Konstantin that his legs would be just fine.
Air India needs to embrace the Social Media trends of its country and of the airline industry as well.
Suggestions for making Air India the citizens’ connection to the world and the world’s connection to India:
- Link Air India’s Social Media sites to and from its primary site, http://www.airindia.com.
- Engage fans and followers of Air India Social Media sites with interesting facts such as airfare specials, great times to travel to see certain sites around the world and within India, exclusive imagery of Air India planes, and new routes announced.
- Announce advance fares for major world events and site seeing locations within India and around the world, including imagery of the sites.
- Utilize Orkut, the most visited social networking site in India, boasting more than 12.8 million visitors. (Orkut’s audience is three times its nearest competitor Facebook, according to an online article on India’s most popular networking sites.
- Create accounts on India’s leading Social Media sites, including ibibo and Myspace.
- Engage fans and followers online by asking and answering questions about Air India.
- Prompt fans and followers to upload images relating to Air India.
- Post positive information about the company such as its membership to Star Alliance and what that means for customers.
- Feature a fan’s Facebook post as “Post of the Month.”