JetBlue, Alaska Airlines Fly High with Consumer Conversations

It turns out the JetBlue motto, “You Above All” is not just some manufactured catchphrase after all.

JetBlue and Alaska Airlines were identified as the top performing airline companies in the US for combined online and offline consumer conversations, according to a TotalSocial ranking released by Engagement Labs.

JetBlue performed the greatest in stronger offline engagement, which may be attributed to its in-person pop-up stunts and unique campaigns, such as its recent takeover of New York’s Jamaica Station, offering local commuters a special flight promotion.

Alaska Airlines, which reported a $911M profit in 2016, tops the category’s rankings for its online sentiment, while Delta leads in volume of online conversations.

“Since the airline industry relies so heavily on peer recommendations and customer experiences, it is extremely important for airlines to know what consumers are saying about them, and that includes both online and offline conversations,” says  Ed Keller, CEO at Engagement Labs. “Together these are proven to be important drivers of sales; offline conversation is an even bigger factor than social media, one that is often overlooked by marketers.”

American Airlines is the most talked about airline company offline, but ranks as the top airline in Engagement Labs’ recently released Social Misfits report. A Social Misfit is defined as a brand that performs very well socially either online or offline, but not both, suggesting an opportunity for the brand to improve performance that could drive enhanced marketing effectiveness and ROI.

“As a whole, the airline category performs better in terms face-to-face conversations as compared to online social media,” says Kellers. “The sentiment of online conversation in the airlines category is exceptionally poor compared to most other categories, which means a lot of the time people are posting about airlines online is to talk about a bad experience or complaint.  The offline conversation is much more positive, however, which means the airlines are doing something right to drive the types of real-world conversations that drive business.”

Based on these results, Keller believes airline companies should not only focus on newer marketing tactics online but also maintain traditional tactics.

“While online social media is certainly an important customer service channel for airlines, they cannot ignore offline consumer conversations, which are an important business driver and are quite different from online conversations,” Keller says. “Airline brands that are able to successfully activate both online and offline word of mouth will enjoy greater success than those that take a more narrow view of what drives their social influence.”

The rankings of the top U.S. airlines were based on Engagement Labs’ proprietary TotalSocial data, which measure the most important drivers of brand performance in a detailed and continuous analysis of social media and word of mouth conversations.

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