The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

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Airline Social Media

How do you become a millionaire? Make a billion dollars and then buy an airline. – Warren Buffett

Buffett learned from experience – he got burned when he bought shares in US Airways worth over $300 million. In five years, they’d lost 75% of their value.

Buffett joked: “If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright.”

Well, maybe shooting one of the Wright brothers is taking it a bit far. But airlines are tricky businesses to run at the best of times. Little wonder they so often lose money.

Your customers are tired and often grumpy. They’ve often got up early (or stayed up late) for their flight. Then they had to line up for check-in. Then security – which is simultaneously terrifying and humiliating. Then they’ve had to fight their way on board to find a cramped seat where they’ll have to sit for several hours.

Not even the food is special.

Hook that up with the fact that you’re dealing with people’s dreams. Vacations they’ve saved years to take. Trips across country to reunite with relatives or friends. Travel to a make-or-break business deal.

Airlines have a tough job on their hands.

Would you want to be an airline? I’m not sure I would.

But if I was, I’d be careful to avoid these mistakes.

1. Ryanair’s “Middle Gimp”

James Lockley and his newlywed wife had spent two hours stuck in traffic en route to Stansted Airport in London, England. They were flying out to their own wedding reception in central Europe.

Despite the delay, they arrived at the airport an hour before their Ryanair flight was due to depart.

Yet due to Ryanair staff behaving incompetently, the plane boarded without them.

They were left stranded – and furious – in London, while the guests at their own wedding reception partied without them.

Lockley’s revenge? A letter of complaint to Ryanair that he published to Facebook. Ryanair staff are characterized as “Vacant”, “Not That Bright” and “Middle Gimp”.

Middle Gimp – supposedly a customer services manager – showed no compassion o their plight.

Here’s the story:

Middle Gimp had clearly listen hard at Ryan Air Middle Gimp school as he managed to take two perfectly calm and sane adults and in a matter of seconds reduce them to angry people considering violence.

‘Check in opens 3 hours before the flight’ he barked repeatedly as if it was the answer to every question in life. We tried to ask Middle Gimp direct questions about why it was necessary for us to miss the flight because the Child had forgotten to do his job, and Vacant had forgotten to do hers.

‘Why is this our fault, and why should we miss the flight because Ryan Air staff have admitted they made errors?.

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘Do you acknowledge we have just cause for complaint as we tried to do the right thing and the only reason we are not on the plane is because of communication failures with Ryan Air Staff?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

‘What colour are my trousers?’

‘Check in opens three hours before the flight’

You can read the full letter here. At the time of writing, it’s clocked up close to 70,000 shares.

Ouch.

Worse, Ryanair have just ignored it.

Ryanair gets by on being cheap. People use Ryanair because they want to save money. And maybe that’s a strategy that will always work for them.

But here’s the rub.

People today expect more of companies, especially when it comes to customer service. Companies who fulfill that expectation are rewarded for their effort.

Research shows that seven in 10 (71%) consumers are likely to recommend a brand to others, if they experience a quick and effective customer service response on social media. That figure drops to 19% for consumers who don’t receive a response.

2. United Breaks Guitars

Canadian musician Dave Carroll was flying from Halifax to Omaha, Nebraska to play at a gig. He checked his guitar into hold.

During a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, he overheard another passenger exclaim “they’re throwing guitars outside”.

When Carroll arrived in Omaha, he discovered that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had suffered severe damage.

Carroll tried to claim compensation, but his claim was repeatedly rejected because he had failed to submit the claim within the “standard 24-hour timeframe.”

After nine months of frustrating phone calls and failed negotiations, Carroll changed tactics. Instead of trying to deal with United’s customer service team, he wrote a song about his experience.

“United Breaks Guitars” was an instant YouTube hit, clocking up 150,000 views in a single day.

United immediately contacted Carroll to “make what happened right” – though they only offered $3,000 in compensation (Carroll took it, and gave the money to charity).

Fortunately, Taylor guitars stepped into the breach, offering Carroll two Taylor guitars.

And “United Breaks Guitars” is still Dave Carroll’s biggest hit, with over 14 million views on YouTube.

What does this show? People power. Your customers have a greater voice than ever before – so don’t dismiss them when they come to you with problems.

3. #QantasLuxury

Back in 2011, Australian airline Qantas unintentionally kicked off a Twitter comedy hour.

Qantas asked people to tweet about their dream luxury inflight experience using the hashtag #QantasLuxury.

Did people start sharing their flying fantasies?

Nope, they didn’t..

Instead, they used the hashtag as a batsignal to get the attention of Qantas customer services.

Tweets included:

My #QantasLuxury experience would be no matter what time or duration of the flight a proper meal is served a cookie is not a meal its a joke

A complimentary cheap hotel room because your cynical airline left you stranded in Adelaide, of all places. Adelaide. #QantasLuxury

A plane that doesn’t have an exploding engine! #QantasLuxury

The lesson? If you’re going to ask your customers to dream better, then make sure your current offering is already damn good.

The Takeaway

What’s to learn from all of these? Your customers matter. Listen to them and treat them with respect – and they’ll do the same in return. Ignore customer complaints at your peril!

This is a guest post by Matt Schexnayder of SpareFoot.

2013 was a big year for social media, although what year hasn’t been since Facebook and Twitter burst on the scene? Despite the constant growth, 2013 was certainly the most active in terms of what changed and the amount of use each network received.

To take a closer look at all the data, SpareFoot gathered information from numerous different sources to find the most interesting stats from each of the most widely used social platforms.

The biggest headline came from the picture-sharing app Snapchat, who declined offers of up to $4 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) from both Google and Facebook, which is especially interesting because by the end of last year 15% of all minutes spent online are spent on Facebook. We don’t have the numbers on how many minutes total were spent online, but we can assume it was in the billions, if not trillions, so 15% of that is a lot of time on one site.

Some other mind-blowing facts we came across were:

  • Last year there were 35 million #selfies posted on Instagram
  • Google+ is now averaging 25,000 new users everyday
  • Vine videos are 4x more likely to be seen than regular branded videos (sorry YouTube)

These, among other interesting stats can be found in the following infographic. If your company has not started using these outlets in your marketing efforts, it may be time to start changing your strategy.

Social Media Statistics 2013

Matt Schexnayder is SEO specialist for SpareFoot.

Social Media Analytics

Social media often finds itself ducking live shots in the firing line. Brands know they need it, especially as pretty much everyone is on Facebook these days. But it takes so much time and money to keep it all updated. And it’s frustrating not being able to measure the results you get from your investment.

It’s true that social media is a long-term investment. The more you put in over time, the more you’ll get back. That said, you can measure the results you’re getting from social media, starting today.

Not only can you measure the results you get from social media. We firmly advocate that you should keep a firm eye on your social media metrics.

Tracking metrics can help you find out:

  • Are you getting more traffic from Facebook or Twitter?
  • Who spends more in your online store – a YouTube subscriber, or an Instagram follower?
  • Does posting at the weekend have more impact than a weekday post?
  • What’s your ROI from social media marketing?
  • How much is a Facebook fan really worth?
  • What works well on social media at engaging fans? What could work better?

All of this is marketing gold, but the answers will be different for every brand. So to get your cut of this goldmine, you have to do the digging yourself.

In fact, we’re not the only ones who think you should track your metrics. There are a ton of companies out there vying for you to open your wallet. In return, they promise to deliver your metrics in digestible form.

Is it worth the money? We believe it can be. It depends on your need, and the budget you have available. If you’re on a shoestring, there are plenty of free tools to help you dig deep into how you’re doing on Facebook and Twitter (more on that in a moment). But if you’re short on time with cash to splash, then help is at hand.

In this article, we take a peek at some of the best social analytic tools that are out there today. Some are free, some are low cost (from $9 per month), and some will burn a deep hole in your pocket (from $499 per month).

Once we’ve taken our guided tour, we’ll show you the best combination of free tools for keeping your social media accounts in shape.

1. Hootsuite (Free or $)

One of the more established social media monitoring tools, Hootsuite has over 7 million users. With a free option including basic analytics, and pro options starting at $8.99 a month, it’s easy to see why.

In addition to providing analytics reports, Hootsuite features include scheduled updates, tracking clicks on links, and keyword listening.

Works with:

  • Facebook
  • Foursquare
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Mixi
  • Twitter
  • WordPress

Good for: Keeping things simple and low cost. Doing everything in one place.
Not so great for: Getting advanced insights, or managing big brands on social media.

2. Klout (Free)

Do people care about what you’re saying on social media? How engaged are your fans?

To discover how much influence you have on social media, Klout is your tool. Klout gives you an influence score out of 100, and tells you the social networking sites where you have the most influence. It also lets you know which niches you have most influence over. Lastly, it provides a chart tracking your influence over the last three months.

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Don’t fret if your score seems a little low even though you have thousands of followers. Even Justin Bieber with his 42 million followers only has a score of 92.

Works with:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Good for: Discovering the topics and social networks where you have the most influence on the conversation.
Not so great for: Monitoring engagement or tracking KPIs (unless you use your Klout score as a KPI).

3. Sprout Social ($)

Image 2

Most social media analytics tools let your track how engaged your fans and followers are with your brand.

Sprout Social is different. Designed for brands and businesses with a big social media following, Sprout Social is unique in its ability to track your brand’s engagement with fans.

You can see what percentage of messages your brand responds to, as well as the average response time. Big brands will require input from a range of employees to answer customer questions, and Sprout Social has that covered too, allowing you to delegate responses. Messages can be drafted before approval by a social media manager.

In addition, Sprout offers keyword tracking so you can check how much your brand is being discussed.

Works with:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Good for: Monitoring your own social media performance. Delegating social media tasks.
Not so great for: Small brands who need a low cost solution. Prices start at $39 per month.

4. Viralheat (Free or $)

Used by over 20,000 businesses including Harley Davidson, Amazon.com and the WiFi Alliance, Viralheat holds its own amidst better known analytics tools.

What makes it special? It allows you to pinpoint social media users who are already advocates for your brand, so you can reach out to the people who can give your business a marketing boost. It also includes the option to listen out for brand mentions across social media channels based on sentiment. That way, you can see what people love about your brand, and what you need to work on.

What’s more, Viralheat is one of the lower cost options, with prices starting at $9.99 per month.

Works with:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Good for: Touching base with influencers who love your brand; tracking customer sentiment; monitoring YouTube and Pinterest.
Not so great for: Users looking for a slick interface, as Viralheat could do with some trimming up.

5. Social Mention (Free)

If you want to know how much people are talking about your brand, and what they’re saying, then social mention is to tool for you.

Search for any brand name, and social mention shows you the latest updates on a range of social media channels. It also tells you how often your brand is mentioned, and gives a range of indicators showing your brand’s social media reach. These include strength (the likelihood of your brand being talked about on social media), sentiment (the ratio of positive to negative mentions), passion (the level at which people repeatedly talk about your brand) and reach (a measure of the number of unique authors talking about your brand).

For a quick glimpse into how your brand is doing on social media, it’s one of the best tools out there.

Works with over 80 social networks, including:

  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • FriendFeed
  • Google+
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Good for: Getting a quick insight into how much your brand is being talked about on social media. It’s worth checking your stats each month and watching how they change.
Not so great for: Getting into the nitty gritty of analytics, such as clicks, replies and retweets.

6. Crowdbooster ($)

For people whose brains work visually, Crowdbooster is ideal. It’s top feature is giving you a simple to grasp chart showing which of your updates have performed the best.

Image 3

It also tracks who your greatest fans are, helps you find brand advocates you’re not yet following, and alerts you to any unusual stats you should pay attention to.

Prices start at $9 a month, though most brands will need the $49 per month package. With users including the Los Angeles Times and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, you’ll be in good company.

Works with:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Good for: Social media newbies. It keeps everything simple and easy to understand.
Not so great for: Brands on a budget, or those using a range of social networks.

7. Spredfast ($)

Like Sprout Social, Spredfast is targeted at big business, and offers in-depth social media tracking for national and international brands.

It helps you find the content and engagement strategies that are hitting the sweet spot of your customers, so you can do more of what works.

What’s more, you can use the built in calendar tools to help staff keep track of who should be updating social media feeds throughout the day.

Works with:

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Good for: Targeting your engagement strategy at a specific audience. Hooking up social with your other online marketing.
Not so great for: Brands who want a quick and easy way to track their social media stats.

Other Handy Tools

If the tools we’ve listed so far aren’t quite the perfect fit you were hoping for, never fear! There are plenty more fish in the sea, and we’ve been deep sea diving to reel in some of the best.

Many of these tools are free, and can be combined to make a social media toolkit worthy of any Twitter trooper. We’ll show you our favorite combination in a moment, but first, to the tools…

  • Social Oomph (Free or $). Schedule updates, track keywords, and quickly grow your Twitter following.
  • Sysomos ($). Another sophisticated, all in one, pricey tool for measuring your analytics.
  • Tweet Deck (Free). An app for Twitter power users. Ideal for one-man-band businesses. Includes basic stats if combined with the bit.ly url shortener.
  • twilert ($). Monitor keywords on Twitter without leaving your email inbox. Expensive for a single function tool, starting at $9 per month.
  • Buffer App (Free or $). Our favorite scheduling tool also includes basic metrics. Like Tweet Deck, it’s handy for small businesses.
  • Facebook Insights (Free). Comes free with any Facebook page, and provides enough stats for most small businesses using Facebook. Can get really complicated if you go too much in depth.
  • Wildfire ($). Google’s tool for helping brands optimize their social ads. If you regularly use social advertising, this is for you.
  • Google Analytics Social Reports (Free). How much traffic is social media driving to your website? How much of that traffic converts to sales? Google Analytics gives you the answers you need.
  • Google Alerts (Free). More of a track the whole internet than a social media tracking tool, Google alerts stands out because it provides email updates, and it’s free.
  • UberVU ($). Championed by PayPal, Microsoft and MTV, UberVU provides real-time social media updates. This comes with a price tag of $499 per month.
  • Pinterest Web Analytics (Free). Pinterest’s very own analytics tool. Handy if pins are a regular traffic source to your site.

Social Media Analytics on a Shoestring – a 5 Step Plan

Not all brands have bottomless budgets to invest in social media marketing. What can you do if you want to keep track of the stats without spending a fortune? Here’s what we’d do in that situation.

  1. Use Buffer App to post updates. Scheduling updates with Buffer saves time.
  2. Check what works with Buffer’s free analytics. Which updates get the most comments, shares and likes? Notice what works, and do more of it.
  3. Track your influence with Klout and Social Mention. Are you making ripples or stirring up a storm? These tools will let you know. Spend five minutes each week plugging your scores into a spreadsheet, so you can see whether your social media strategy is moving your brand in the right direction.
  4. Use Facebook Insights. Especially if you need more depth than what’s provided by Buffer App.
  5. Monitor traffic and sales with Google Analytics. Ultimately, the most valuable statistic in your arsenal is how much revenue you get from your social media traffic. This information is available free with Google Analytics.

This system works if you’re using it for a single set of social media accounts. If you want to update multiple accounts, then you can pay for Buffer’s “Go Awesome” package at $10 per month. Alternatively, you could use Hootsuite, or a combination of Tweet Deck and bit.ly.

Related Reading

5 Steps – How To Convert Leads Into Customers
Sprout Traffic

6 Ways to Convert Social Media Traffic Into Leads
Social Media Examiner

Double Your Leads Instantly With This Simple Evergreen Tweak
KISSmetrics

How to Convert Website Traffic into Paying Customers
Jeff Bullas

Inbound Marketing: How to Convert Traffic into Leads
Digital Inbound

Your Turn!

What social media analytics tools do you use? Are there any we’ve missed you’d recommend giving a whirl?