Today we’re kicking off a regular post updating you every Friday on the latest news on how brands and businesses are using social media: our weekly brands and social media diary. We kick-off this week with British Airways.
British Airways launches online community
This week saw the pre-launch of a British Airways online community: Metrotwin. The site is invite-only at the moment, but you can add yourself to the list on the homepage and contact them through Twitter @Metrotwin.
The idea of the site is to take the concept of ‘town twinning’ to the very local level, providing recommendations on restaurants, events, shops, bars and other things in neighbourhoods across both cities. The benefit for BA is obvious, as Chris Davies, their Digital Marketing Manager states:
We fly more people between London and New York than anyone else. Creating a community website about the best of what’s on offer in the two cities we know best is a credible and useful tool.
From the press-releases and coverage so far the site is designed to help people navigate the range of recommendations and reviews on the web to help members of the community find the best things quickly. The site lets users review and rate recommendations, create their own profile and find ‘twins’. They can also follow other members’ recommendations. The features seem designed to foster a community that combines expert and user reviews and uses co-creation to source the best recommendations in both cities.
The benefits for BA are clear. In an increasingly challenging market, airlines need to retain their most profitable customers. And the business travel route between London and New York must be one of the most profitable routes out there. There is a clear gap in the market online for detailed peer-review sites specifically aimed at people making business trips to these cities. So if they get it right, I suspect this site will work.
So what can we learn from this?
The air industry is facing difficult times, the increasing price of oil and the Open Skies agreement are both hitting transatlantic carriers – increasing costs and increasing competition. What BA are doing here is something that all brands could learn from during difficult times. Their aim is to increase customer retention and their approach is to make their engagement with them sustainable. Rather than them being customers who buy individual experiences with BA (single flights), they want to create an ongoing experience.
At FreshNetworks we are working with a number of clients in the travel industry at the moment, and the aim in each of these is to create and provide a service that truly extends the experience beyond just individual trips. When designing and building online communities, it is important to work on what both the brand wants from the community, but also why a member would take part and what they want to do there. With Metrotwin, BA are providing a real service to their customers, and this should be central to any social media strategy a brand follows.
Read all our Social Media Diary entries