American Airlines’ First Class Twitter Strategy

This post is part of the Twitter for Brands Series, which features winning strategies from the top brand pages on Twitter and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

For American Airlines, Twitter is a tool to enhance the customer experience.

On the microblogging site, American Airlines has over 416,000 fans, fifth place among all the airlines.

Solving Customer Service Issues

From 6 a.m. to midnight, customer service representatives are on American Airlines’ Twitter to answer questions from customers, as well as take care of any problems that may arise, according to the company’s Social Media Specialist Stephanie Scott.

The stream is mostly made up of these inquiries. On June 12, for example, a representative had a back-and-forth with user @srboilers, who complained about “condescending flight attendants” on her airplane. Within an hour AA apologized for an attendant’s behavior, promising to move the matter “forward to the appropriate manager.”

Scott says that addressing customers in this fashion is a main goal of the account.

“We’re able to take probably about 50 percent of customer issues and turn them around,” she said. “We can resolve issues and make them happy. The company believes it’s an important new tool for helping people.”

Posing Fun Questions to Fans

When the Twitter feed isn’t filled with replies to customers, Scott, along with Katy Phillips, a social media analyst for the company, are on there sending out community building messages to fans.

Engagement rates for AA are at their highest, they found, when the brand asks their fans to chime in and give their opinions. For a recent campaign, the company tweeted to fans, telling them to fill in the blank of their favorite international city. “We got lots of replies from that,” says Scott. “They were coming in every second.”

Another initiative that encouraged fans to chime in involved travel tips. The company compiled a list of 80 cities, along with suggestions on where to go and what to do once a person lands there. These fun and easy tweets that the company puts out never fail to hit with fans, according to Scott.

Showing Behind the Scenes Information

Followers of AA’s Twitter feed respond well to photos posted by the brand. Specifically, the photos that show what goes on behind the scenes are what motivate fans to retweet and favorite the posts. This photo of new airplanes that will be debuting in 2014 received 70 retweets and nine favorites.

“Social media is a very image driven place,” Scott said. “Whenever we post a beautiful photo it tends to get really high engagement.”

Since images stand out more online, it’s not surprising that AA has seen higher involvement rates when it posts them on Twitter.

Empowering the Brand’s Most Loyal Followers

AA is paying attention to its fans on Twitter.

“We’re looking to identify social advocates — the people talking to us a lot on social media — and bring them into real world events,” Scott said. “We’ve identified about 100 people who talk to us frequently. They really love the brand and tell their friends about it.”

So far, Scott says that AA has invited the biggest fans to a flight on which it showed them certain aircraft amenities, as well as to South by Southwest in Austin, where executives talked about new technologies.

Merely one percent of a website’s following “can directly influence 30 percent or more of overall end actions on brand websites by recommending the brand’s site, products or promotions to friends,” according to a study by Meteor Solutions.

AA understands the power of its fans, and the value of engaging with them.

Scott said, “We don’t share something [on Twitter] unless we think it adds value for the customer.”

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