Do You Know Who's Tweeting Your Airline?

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, October 5, 2015

Among apps, websites, social networks, and call centers, there are a number of ways to get in touch with travel companies nowadays. For consumers, this means a lot of options and is a good thing. For travel companies, this means a lot of channels to keep up with and can seem daunting. But it also means that there are a lot of ways you can understand your audience, and a lot of ways you can adapt your services to meet their needs.

It’s, of course, important to take a look at how audiences are interacting with each of your channels, but it’s also valuable to focus on one platform at a time. If we take a look at Twitter, for example, we can see how consumers are interacting with an industry like U.S. airlines and who those consumers are.

Each of the major U.S. airlines (JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United, Southwest, Virgin America, and Delta) are mentioned hundreds — if not thousands — of times each day. In fact, if we take a look at their main Twitter profiles (@JetBlue, @AlaskaAir, @AmericanAir, @United, @SouthewstAir, @VirginAmerica, @Delta), these handles were mentioned a total of 587,000 times by users over the past three months — June 20 through Sept. 20, 2015.



Now let’s take a look at the sources of these tweets — in other words, the method people are using to tweet these airlines. Breaking it down by airline:

  • @JetBlue: 49% of incoming mentions from tweets using Twitter for iPhone, 17% from, 12% from Twitter for Android, 22% from other sources
  • @AlaskaAir: 44% Twitter for iPhone, 20%, 13% Twitter for Android, 23% other
  • @AmericanAir: 53% Twitter for iPhone, 16%, 14% Twitter for Android, 17% other
  • @United: 48% Twitter for iPhone, 18%, 14% Twitter for Android, 20% other
  • @SouthwestAir: 56% Twitter for iPhone, 14%, 14% Twitter for Android, 17% other
  • @VirginAmerica: 37% Twitter for iPhone, 32%, 10% Twitter for Android, 21% other
  • @Delta: 47% Twitter for iPhone, 19%, 14% Twitter for Android, 20% other

For most of these airlines, most of their mentions are coming from mobile devices. This makes sense in that Twitter is an increasingly mobile platform. But the fact that airlines have an extremely high share of mobile audiences, especially using particular devices, leads to a few best practices airlines should consider.

To be clear, only 2-3% of mentions of each airline during this time came from Twitter for iPad and Twitter for Android Tablets, so the mobile devices people are using to get in touch with airlines are generally smartphones and not tablets.

This tells us, of course, that consumers tweeting airlines are tweeting them on the go. In many use cases, this means that consumers have a question or comment about the airline they’re tweeting — oftentimes one that is time sensitive. For example, many airlines are receiving customer questions over Twitter about a flight change, delay, cancellation, or other matter. Airlines should make sure they’ve invested in a very quick customer response team to address these concerns in a timely fashion. With the amount of tweets coming from mobile users, this is a necessity. 

From this data, we can also see that for each of these airlines, Twitter for iPhone held the plurality for tweet sources — showing us that iPhone users make up a huge audience for the airlines. This is a lesson that can help us take insights from one platform to another; for example, if an airline were to analyze what the concerns coming from these iPhone users are on Twitter, they can make sure their iPhone app addresses these concerns.

At the end of the day, consumers just want a quick and easy customer experience. They have many options in terms of how to contact your company, but they are looking for the one that solves their issue best. Airlines should make sure to understand the intricacies of this audience across multiple platforms in order to compete when it comes to customer care.

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