“Twitter and Facebook are more important to Virgin Atlantic than TV.” Virgin Atlantic VP of Marketing, Porter Gale’s assessment of Social Media’s advantages over traditional mass media further solidifies how forward-thinking companies are embracing and leveraging engagement media.
Virgin cleverly capitalizes on Twitter as a guest-service/customer retention tool. When flights are delayed, Virgin uses Twitter to communicate the news to their followers. Active monitoring of the channel by a dedicated staff intercepts neutral or negative comments and responds at a moment’s notice with additional information. Links to online resources, refunds and in-flight credits are offered where appropriate. This level of customer service positions Virgin Atlantic as a customer-focused and forward-thinking company; growing and developing loyal customers.
Virgin’s social media success is a result of the ability to track closed sales from Facebook and Twitter engagements. With the 24-hour “Fly Forward, Give Back” promotion, fans/followers were given the opportunity to buy airfare at a hugely discounted rate.
“We’ve got a 24hr @earlybird sale 4 you! Flights from $39 (see fare rules) & $5 / res 2 charity #FlyFwdGiveBack.”
With $5 per booking going to KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Classroom Projects, the promotion not only gave Virgin it’s fifth-most successful day ever in terms of ticket sales, but it was also a huge PR win.
But How Far Can Social Media Really Get You? That depends…
For Virgin Atlantic, Ms. Gale doesn’t see a role for TV or other mass media; “TV isn’t that high on our list; a large percentage of our sales are done on our website and things we can do that can capture a person while they are on their laptop is that much closer to a sale.” Knowing your market, the competition and your industry is crucial to understanding the most valuable media to get the best return on your investment. Virgin Atlantic clearly gets it.
Although Virgin is a regional carrier, has limited routes and a small fleet, they’ve started on the right track. They’ve established a strong following and properly leveraged the channels. It’s easier to manage more followers by building up and onto what you already have than it is to constantly rebuild.
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