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How United’s social media engagement improved in just four months

@SamShankman

Jun 10, 2013 5:49 am

Skift Take

Airlines’ social media accounts will become more sophisticated as their confidence and experience grows. United’s journey thus far is a glimpse at how social media has progressed from static status updates into an integrated service provider in a relatively short time.

— Samantha Shankman

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Evolving Strategies in Travel Ad Tech and Bookings

United Airlines‘ social media team received an encouraging profile this weekend that outlined the airline’s social media strategies and its ambitious goals for catching up with peers American and Delta.

United ranked 7th in terms of Twitter followers when we first ranked U.S. airlines’ social presence earlier this year.

In the past four months, the airline has increased its Twitter following by over 45,000 and more than doubled its average daily tweet rate from 136 to 357.5 daily tweets. United’s total Tweet volume has almost tripled from 14,042 in January 2013 to 40,505 tweets.

Despite United’s growth in this time, its following still lags behind those of its competitors.

Airlines Twitter Followers Facebook Likes
JetBlue 2,099,847 767,575
Southwest 1,504,344 3,800,501
American 594,461 1,039,463
Delta 556,556 687,094
Virgin America 418,111 386,629
U.S. Air 287,471 69,191
United 240,377 382,674
Alaska Air 80,137 268,803
Hawaiian 57,109 264,605
Spirit 43,653 0

Although its follower count remains relatively low, its daily tweet rate has leapfrogged JetBlue and Delta since January 2013. United now sends out the second highest number of tweets (357.5) a day, while American’s social media team still pumps out a whopping 898.5 messages a day.

United still has the habit of using too many of these tweets to encourage users to fill out online customer service surveys.

United Twitter Update

United is also putting effort towards its other social media accounts. It has posted 77 Instagram photos for its 4,161 followers and 53 YouTube videos for its 3,008 subscribers.

Social downsides to merger?

United’s managing director of marketing and product development, Mark Krolick, told the Chicago Tribune that the airline had to rebuild its social media following after the merger, but the claim is dubious. True, United and Continental could not combine their respective social accounts, but they their social media team still speaks of gaining “likes” and “followers” as if they are independent of engagement and quality customer service.

Is this a problem that could soon puzzle American and US Airways as they move towards their pending integration? Not likely. AA already has a heavyweight social media team and the US Airways one seems like it gave up a while ago. United just needs to make sure it behaves more like the former than the latter.

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