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And the award for the best Twitter airline goes to...

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Megan Kelly |
AirplaneWhen you are on the road, Twitter is an ideal tool to get the information fast about you next flight. We conducted a customer-based study to find which airline company has the best customer relations on Twitter.

When you are on your way to the airport and need information fast, it is not very convenient to search for airliner's website, look around for a contact details (they can be buried behind other info beyond belief), and you certainly can't have phone numbers of all airline companies you may need. Since every company has an account and the service is fast, the fastest way is to ask a question on Twitter and get the answer in a few minutes.

This is a theory but how does it work in real life? To find the answer to that question the team conducted a research using simple but effective methodology. We have 68 airliners on our Twitter list from different parts of the world. We went through all timelines to check their activity in the last 30 days. Then, in the first round, we chose well-known companies from different regions to see how different cultures reflect on Twitter activities.

In the second round we eliminated all companies that don't update their statuses for days and those with just self-promotions in their timeline. When that was done, the real work began. We didn't use any fancy software because that wasn't the point, we used, let's put it this way, human-based approach, went through all timelines and wrote a short description of every company.

Bear in mind that we didn't evaluate any services, just companies' Twitter presence.

In the timeline of one of the world's biggest companies, Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) you can see posts in several languages and this is a very good option because user don't have to search for accounts in their language and it is also easier for the company to maintain just one Twitter account. They do interact with their users but you will see company's answers buried in posts, there's no direct mentions of other users on the timeline.

When you are talking to Jet Airways (@jetairways) you have a feeling that you are talking to an old friend who has an airline company. And that is most probably the best compliment a company can get: Their social media people have found a very good recipe how to keep a friendly approach while promoting their company without endless "Fly with us!" posts. Overall, the feeling is like you entered Cheers in Boston.

Air New Zealand (@FlyAirNZ) is heavily involved New Zealand promotion; there is a feeling at some moments that we are reading tweets by the country's tourist authorities. However, they are doing it right and this is a very clever strategy - after reading what their country has to offer you are very close to the decision to book a flight and see the land of the Hobbits. They are also fast with answers, so the overall feeling is very good.

Korean Air (@KoreanAir_KE) is following all good Twitter practices: Answers are fast, there is a good mix of self-promotion and useful links, they retweet and thank for RTs, and the conversation is not corporate-cold but warm and engaging.

Another Asian airline company, Asiana Airlines (@AsianaAirlines), can be described as the "Smile in the sky". They are friendly, always in a good mood, fast with answers, and engaged in communications and retweets. Their Twitter attitude is doing more good for them than any straight self-promotions could ever do.

WestJet (@WestJet), "Canada's preferred airline", is tweeting in a correct but not exceptional way: There are promotional posts, retweets, answers... We don't want to say the job isn't done but the feeling is... OK. Not bad, not excellent, just OK. Sort of I-am-working-here-because-I-have-to. Judging by the communication with their followers, they are capable to do much better job, they just need a spark of enthusiasm.

Air Canada (@AirCanada) has a separate account @ACFlightOffers and we currently don't know why. People from Air Canada's social network team are doing a very good job, they are fast to help on both accounts, have a friendly approach, and although they have fewer followers than their direct competition in Canada, based on tweets we would choose Air Canada on our way to the north.

Emirates Airline (@emirates)... Well, they are very easy to describe: 1 tweet "Coming soon!" For some reason, one of the world's most respected companies decided to leave Twitterland in the dark. Too bad, their Facebook statuses are very engaging, informative and interesting.

And then there is American Airlines (@AmericanAir), the fastest airline on Twitter. They are following all mentions, the answers are fast, if there is a problem the answer is even faster, they thank to all mentions, and they manage to do all that in a warm and engaging way. We don't know how big their social networking team is, but it seems there is a small army monitoring what's happening on Twitter.

Reading American Airlines’ posts, it is obvious that the company had clearly defined rules of behavior and the balance between fulfilling corporate duties and friendly approach is excellent. The award for the best Twitter airline goes to @AmericanAir, no doubts about that. ■

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