African Airlines and Social Media Revisited

The last time I wrote about African Airlines and social media was in 2009 when social media was still an alien tool to many African airlines and passengers alike; only Kenya Airways had an active social media campaign in 2009 with an active Twitter account, Facebook page, Youtube channel, Flicker account and a dedicated social media development team.

Kenya Airways has therefore reaped the benefits of joining the race early and the airline has the largest social media following across various social media platforms. The channels, especially the Twitter feed is fresh, helpful and engaging. The Kenya Airways Corporate Communications Manager is also on Twitter, so users are only a Tweet away from engaging the airline in a more meaningful way.

Another dynamic that has changed in the last few years in Africa is access. More Africans have had greater access to broadband and hence millions more have signed up on social media channels and are running blogs. Many African travelers have utilized this new “voice” in loudly expressing their satisfaction/displeasure at airline services. A case in point might the incident when Ugandan Opposition leader Kizza Besigye was taken off a KQ flight destined for Entebbe after the airline received a warning from Ugandan aviation authorities that the flight might be prevented from landing at Entebbe with the opposition leader onboard. Many Ugandan sympathizers descended on KQ Facebook page to express their displeasure and even declared their intention to “boycott” Kenya Airways flights. Today, unlike two years ago, a simple Twitter search for any major African carrier will yield lots of conversation, presenting a golden opportunity for airline social media managers to jump in and manage the conversation. Increased internet access has empowered consumers and given many a direct way to get in touch with the top management on issues of concern.

Sheer numbers aside, there have been some quality too in the deployment of social  media marketing tools  through innovative techniques as can be seen amongst South African airlines like Kulula. Some of the top African airlines on Twitter include the following:

Kenya Airways                     14,495 Followers
South African Airways            8299 Followers
Kulula                                     6012 Followers
Arik Air                                  3084 Followers
Air Nigeria                                712 Followers

Kulula engages its clients in more conversation and has the highest number of mentions on Twitter, meaning Kulula is getting social media right. In the next post, I will analyse these stats in detail using some three social media tracking tools to determine which airlines generate more negative vibe and which are more influential.                          
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