Skift Take

SkyMall shows how social media can help even the quirkiest or obscure travel brands remain relevant in an industry that's quickly moving online.

Flyers are frustrated with FAA’s in-flight rules that keep them from accessing their e-readers, shopping apps, and emails during take-off and landing. But there’s one company that’s much more focused on reaching flyers once they get off the plane.

The quirky, always-present SkyMall magazine tucked into plane’s seat-back pockets has transitioned from an in-flight catalogue launched in 1989 to become a thriving e-commerce site with $80.5 million in revenue in 2009. The majority of sales are now completed online.

For the past 4 years, SkyMall has used social media to raise brand awareness and engage customers. It has an active presence on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

SkyMall’s Brand Voice Matches Its Products

The company’s voice comes across as playful as its products. SkyMall director of marketing Jinine Martin says the voice is meant to complement the company’s mission: “To deliver more than just cool stuff through creativity, innovation, and fun!”

It posts images of its bizarre collection of products as well as some random images, always with lots of hashtags.

The accounts are monitored and updated daily, but no one person is dedicated to running the streams. According to Martin, “It’s a fun area of the business and many of us want to have input.”

Earlier this year, SkyMall merged with marketing software and digital advertising company Xhibit Corp. SkyMall plans to leverage its partner’s digital tools to become more engaged in social media over the next couple of months.

Talking to SkyMall Fans

SkyMall has several online advocates to help build curiosity about products. Thrillist‘s contributor network manager Mike Barish goes so far to declare himself the world’s foremost authority on Skymall in his Twitter profile. And his love of the brand helps drive sales.

“‘Super fans’ have certainly helped get the engagement going and provide fuel to our conversations,” says Martin. “Some are prominent bloggers that have without a doubt provided substantial traffic to”

In this recent tweet, SkyMall connects a reader and Barish to talk about the SkyRest Travel Pillow:

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Tags: shopping, social media, twitter

Photo credit: An eagle wall sculpture is just one of the many curious products inside SkyMall's in-flight magazine. Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

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