Turkish Airlines' Social Media Journey

The airline is leveraging social channels to interact with customers in different markets with geographically relevant content.

Social media has become an extremely important touchpoint for organizations. Not only do social channels provide new ways to communicate with customers and prospects, but they can be essential information-gathering tools.

Recognizing this two-pronged benefit, many organizations have started to leverage social media. However, proper use of social media takes more than an ad-hoc approach and the more savvy companies are implementing robust social media strategies that allow them to leverage these channels to complement their marketing and service approaches.

Growth in the number of social channels as well as social users is at times a challenge for organizations which find it difficult to keep up with the conversation. This is especially true for larger organizations that have different channels serving various customer groups.

Turkish Airlines was facing this reality and its 10-strong interactive marketing team had the daunting task of administering dozens of social channels around the world. For example, apart from its main Facebook page with 2.2 million fans, the airline has 20 local Facebook accounts to interact with local fans around the world, Neset Derell, the airline's interactive marketing communications manager, explains. Aside from that, Turkish Airlines is active on other channels, like Twitter, LinkedIn, and FourSquare. Further, videos on YouTube have attracted more than a million views.

The airline's business leaders wanted to make sure the brand was making the most of each individual channel over the various accounts. "It is imperative to connect with fans and keep them aware of our brand, what we do, and the services we offer," Derell stresses. However, customers can be easily bored, and organizations are many times challenged to retain customers' attention for long. The more forward-thinking companies have recognized that in order to successfully retain long-term engagement they need to serve customers with interesting content that's relevant to them.

It was therefore imperative for Turkish Airlines to reach out to its different audiences with content that resonated with them. Derell uses the examples of the 4th of July-while it's an important holiday in the United States, related content wouldn't be appropriate if used in other markets. Similarly, a soccer-related promotion in Germany would only be relevant in that market. "It's important to have local focus," he notes.

While the airline was committed to deliver locally relevant content over its social channels, its business leaders were also aware that the different channels needed to be connected, offering the same brand image and experience to customers across the globe, while relating to different markets. Since this isn't an easy task, the company is using Sprinklr to be more effective and make sure it keeps a consistent online presence across its 30-plus social media channels. Derell notes that Turkish Airlines analyzes each post to determine their impact, even compared between different countries. This allows the brand to iterate successes and address failures.

Bringing an element of fun to social

Further, the company understood the importance of introducing an element of fun in the social experience. In one instance, the Turkish Airlines Facebook account asked its more than 2.2 million fans how many African elephants are equivalent to a fully loaded plane. The answer is 38.

"It's a basic way to engage customers," Derell notes. The proof that such messages work is in the numbers-the question was liked more than 3,600 times, shared 312 times, and received close to 300 comments.

But Derell explains that social channels shouldn't solely be leveraged for interactions. Instead, social has a role to improve customer service. "We're pretty quick to respond to questions about the airline," he says. Further, the company takes action on customer comments. Derell uses the example of a passenger who complained to a flight attendant about the temperature on a plane, only to be told she was unable to do anything about it. Since the plane was equipped with in-flight wifi, the passenger complained on Facebook. "We directly contacted the pilot and asked whether there was any way to change the temperature," Derell says. There was, and the flight attendant was able to go back to the passenger and let him know that the issue was being addressed.

This real-time engagement is essential in an age of quick communications. "It's different than sending an email," Derell explains. Customers are used to getting a quick reply and expect brands to answer them immediately. The tone also needs to be different. "We're really good at giving short and precise answers."