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United Airlines social media case study — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Don Vanderslice of SocialMedia.org. Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

2:50 — SocialMedia.org’s Kurt Vanderah introduces United Airlines’ Manager of Social Media Programs, Lora O’Riordan and Director of Social Media, Karin Moan.

2:51 — Lora explains that her presentation will be about the United and Continental merger and how it worked within the social space.

2:53 — Lora says that for United, the past is not our present or future, but we remember it, too.

2:54 — Lora: How does a two-person team respond to all of the conversations? Just about a year ago they were engaged in less than 2% of conversations about the airline.

2:56 — Lora says today they monitor nearly 25,000 incoming messages per week. They are a 24/7 operation. They resound within 1.5 hours. 12 reservations agents. Developed a number of processes. Proactive and reactive engagement.

2:57 — How did they do it?

  • Organization – created a larger team to support social
  • Customer focus – talked to our most active but frustrated followers about social presence gaps
  • Company wide alignment – brought together people from across the organization
  • Data – deciding which was meaningful and what was a measure of success
  • Defined our marketing strategy and plan for social channels
  • Prioritize – set schedules and milestones and empowered the team to move quickly
  • Identified key technologies

2:59 — Operations and Marketing team under one umbrella and working side-by-side.

3:00 — Create a new United ecosystems. What do customers need and what are they looking for?

3:02 — Lora: We had to be focused on priority number 1: Responding to our fans and followers. Who are the fans/followers requesting support? 56% of our premier members were the ones tweeting and commenting about us. And 45% of that were big time business travelers. This gave us insight as to what platforms to be on:

  • Which social channels do we connect to?
  • How many people do we need internally, especially if we wanted to respond within 1.5 hours?
  • How do we get the people and who do we need? We partnered across the org to discover the people we need in the moment.
  • What will we gain from investing in this? Customer satisfaction, loyalty, revenue, very happy travelers, and great tweets/posts.
  • How do we manage this day-to-day?

3:04 — Lora: The foundation of a top shelf response operation is in place.

3:06 – Lora says that the first tweet chat at #unitedplanechat was 2.5 years ago. United reaches a lot of people through these.

3:07 — Lora: All of these enabled us to act proactively, launching a new campaign that heavily leveraged social.

3:08 — Using everything from infographics, blogging, etc. around the new United Hub

3:09 — Lora says they say unprecedented social growth over the past year

3:10 — Key takeaways:

  • It wasn’t too late (even though the new start really was just a year ago)
  • Increased focus on social media
  • Focus on foundational quality in customer service and responding

Q & A:

Q: When you moved from 2 to 12 was there a push-back?

A: Lora: We had to sell, sell, sell. Our executive group didn’t appreciate social so we had to significantly educate.

Q: Did you find that the 12 reservation agents wanted to be on the social team?

A: Lora: Agents agreed to move from airport offices to downtown Chicago offices. We had a lot of senior people who were interested. We continually have agents who have expressed agents that want to be a part of it … none of them want to go back to traditionally reservations.

Q: How did we identify those who were in the reward process?

A: Lora: Manual collection and outreach. This has a big impact on our executives when the find out that their best customers are out there in the social space wanting to engage with us.

December 10, 2013 0 comments

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