“The conversation is happening whether you are participating or not,” said Porter Gale, top marketer for Virgin American Airlines. That was a real statement if I’ve ever heard one. More and more companies are capitalizing on the vast amount of potential social media has to make or break a brand; some better than others. In a recent article on Ad Age titled “Why Virgin Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV,” Gale highlights the success they’ve gotten via their social media initiatives – which in her opinion, are more successful than the cost of advertising.Why Virgin America Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV
While many brands are jumping aboard the technological wave, Virgin has embraced the trend much faster and with more enthusiasm than any other brand in their market. They respond to in-flight tweets for goodness sake! According to Gale, Facebook and Twitter serve as a multifunctional component to the advancement of their revenue. They use each to engage with guests, make accommodations and even relay important flight information. The airline’s fifth-most successful day in ticket sales ever came as a result of a Twitter promotion. That alone, should speak for itself.
Gale made some pretty sound statements in regard to social media. It’s happening, it’s working and it’s here to stay. “Having a two-way dialogue is really important as people are online more and more,” she said – and she’s right. With 63.2 million smart phone owners aged 13 and over, the US experienced a 60 percent increase since just a year ago. According to a three-month study from September 2010 – December 2010, comScore, Inc. found that of these 63 million owners, 24.7 percent used a mobile social media application. Considering the increase that will happen once the laggards jump on the bandwagon, that’s huge!
Because the majority of Virgin’s sales are done online, it only makes sense for their marketing tactics to remain online as well. Gale doesn’t think TV ads, on their behalf, will happen anytime soon. In today’s realm of consumer reviews, word-of-mouth is essential to the building and maintenance of a brand. A couple of bad reviews on sites like Yelp have the potential to shine negative light on even the household names with catchy jingles. It’s important to have an online presence to prospectively interject negativity and turn it positive; before the power of a dissatisfied consumer takes flight.
There’s no doubt that successful social media tactics take time, strategic planning and proper implementation - but once a company is able to tackle the aforementioned, the power and opportunity it has is endless.
AdAge: “Why Virgin American Values Twitter, Facebook More than TV,” Michael Bush, February 9, 2011
“comScore Reports December 2010 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share,” February 7, 2011