A look at social media, Hawaiian Airlines style

Airline's social media marketing specialist shares how the group is using content to keep all manner of customers engaged

When you are running social media for any large business, the task can seem overwhelming – especially if there are just two of you to do so.

For Hawaiian Airlines’ social media marketing specialist, Asiana Ponciano, the task has been made a lot easier through the smart use of tools and having a clear focus on the role that social media plays in the marketing mix.

Operating 52 aircraft and with a staff of almost 6000, Hawaiian Airlines is Hawaii's biggest and longest-serving airline, and provides links between 11 US mainland cities and a host of Pacific rim countries. The company prides itself on the hospitality that its home islands are famous for, and Ponciano says this is a key driver behind the company’s social media engagement strategy.

“Our philosophy for social media marketing is to entice new visitors, and keep those who have experienced our service loyal to us by serving up to them authentic content coming from a page that is local,” Ponciano says. “So connecting to those who identify us a hometown carrier, but also to those around the world who have a special connection to Hawaii.”

Ponciano and her colleague manage three Facebook channels and four Twitter channels, as well as accounts with Weibo, WeChat, Instagram and YouTube.

“That means being very strategic in the content that we produce on the outbound side,” she says.

What Ponciano says the airline is not doing is treating social media as a traditional customer contact centre, although she says she still believes it still achieves a high level of responsiveness, often through triaging queries to other areas in the business that can assist.

“What we do is rely heavily on our tools, as well as our governance and our processes,” Ponciano says. “And then also having those whose full-time responsibility is social management really understand the brand voice and how we speak and humanise our brand on these channels.”

Critical to the smooth operation of the company’s social strategy are the tools it uses to manage it. Hawaiian Airlines has adopted Spredfast’s conversations and intelligence modules, and Ponciano says she is also planning on adopting Spreadfast’s new customer care tools.

“We saw the need to grow up a little with our operations,” Ponciano says. “We use the tools to tackle all those inbound direct and non-direct messages, and become a little more sophisticated in the way we handle customer care situations.

“We are able to see who is handling what, and connect with our other CRMs – so our post-travel CRM tool, or making sure we are notifying the right reservation manager for a live ticket. And we can communicate the success back to the bigger business.”

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