Corporate Branding in the Eyes of Virgin America

A company’s brand and reputation is one of the most crucial aspects when trying to attract customers. Consumers like to identify themselves with a company, not always for what the company produces, but for what the company represents. Certain company brands may represent rebellion while others represent stability.

Virgin is an example of a company who’s brand is a major part of who they are. Virgin America, Virgin’s airline sector, released their “Breath of Fresh Airline” campaign to spread the word about how they’re reinventing domestic flying. They wanted to advertise some of their new features like mood lighting, in-cabin entertainment, and on-demand food ordering.

The campaign was released in a set of videos, each spotlighting one of the new features. The videos perfectly reflected the company’s reputation. Virgin as a company has always had a sense of humor and a quality of freshness that is product of their founder, Richard Branson. They take pride in being “hip” and having a large sense of style as a company.

Branson has been at the forefront of trying new ways to advertise, whether it be flying across the Atlantic Ocean in a hot air balloon, or using their planes as billboards. Virgin’s goal is always to be found on the front page, not the back.

Based on the brand, Virgin has been able to create a customer base that is excited to be a part of the company and feels “cool” in doing so.

Because of their cutting edge advertising campaigns and quality airline service, Virgin America has been able to capture the title of Best Domestic Airline.

The video channel below is an example of the Breath of Fresh Airline Campaign. The video channel displays the mood lighting feature, but in a way that is entertaining and fitting to the company brand.

*The videos will play through automatically

By: Adam Okimatsu

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Corporate Transparency as an Aid in Crisis Communication

In March 2012, a Vegas-bound JetBlue flight had to be emergency landed in Texas after one of the plane’s pilots began acting erratically and screaming abut al-Qaeda, Iran, and Afghanistan while the plane was in flight.  The pilot was locked out of the cabin by his co-pilot during the incident, causing a scene that led several passengers to restrain him until the plane had emergency landed.  Coverage of this incident was widespread across both local and national news channels, and JetBlue was forced to act quickly and address the situation in order to prevent damage to their reputation.

Results of a survey released in April 2011 by the Canadian Investor Relations Institute (CIRI) and PR giant Fleishman-Hillard found that “the biggest mistake companies make during a corporate or operational crisis is a lack of communication and transparency” and stated “few companies have a crisis plan in place that incorporates social media protocols.”  This point is perfectly illustrated in the fact that JetBlue created their Twitter page on March 28, 2012 – the day after the incident occurred.  This seems to suggest that the company did not have a social media strategy in place that would be capable of addressing a sudden crisis immediately and effectively.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger appeared on The Today Show in an interview with Matt Lauer the following morning in order to address the incident.  Lauer begins to press Barger for more information surrounding the pilot’s reputation around the 1:08 mark, asking if this behavior could have been predicted.  Barger immediately changes the subject and begins praising the “follow up of the crew, and then the customers” to bring the attention back to JetBlue’s effective handling of the situation.

In addition to the JetBlue figurehead’s appearance on NBC, the company also took to their blog, BlueTales, to address the situation and provided three “updates” on the situation throughout the day it occurred.  The blog allowed users to post comments, providing a method of feedback consumers as well as a way to bring public opinion on the crisis to light.

As this example illustrates, corporate transparency is an invaluable tool when addressing a company’s crisis.  JetBlue didn’t seem to have all of its “social media” ducks in a row prior to the incident, but by utilizing Twitter, TV appearances, and BlueTales to provide situational updates to customers, they were able to address the crisis both quickly and effectively.

By: Claudia Pitarque

One Video Can Ruin A Reputation, But One Video Cannot Rebuild It

It can take just one blog post, one Facebook status, one tweet, or one online video to completely shatter your company’s reputation once it goes viral. Ironically though, one social media apology by the company will not help you save face.

Dave Carroll illustrates how his YouTube music video “United Breaks Guitars” had the power to turn an entire company upside down. After United Airlines broke the musician’s guitar in checked luggage and he received terrible customer service while trying to get compensated, Carroll turned to songwriting. He wrote a song about his experience and posted the music video to YouTube. His story changed social media customer service forever. Companies learned that the power of one voice on social media can completely destroy a brand’s reputation.

It takes more than just one apology video to repair a damaged reputation like that though. As discussed in previous posts, it is important to connect with your consumers through their desired social channels, especially in the light of a customer service mistake. The buck can’t stop there. An apology video posted to YouTube should only be the start.

Media columnist Simon Dumenco discusses how companies tend to use the “social apology” scapegoat so often that there should be an entire YouTube channel dedicated to them. His point is that they are overdone and do not solve the problem at hand. Rather, companies should engage their consumers in conversation and monitor what is being said about them in the social media world. When they find a disgruntled customer, they should respond to them personally and try to resolve or compensate whatever issue he or she has. Building such relationships with the public will ultimately have a positive effect on your brand’s image.

By: Gina Cook

Making Twitter and Facebook an even more Interactive Experience

When using social media, it is often difficult for companies to make sure that they are reaching the audience they wish to target. Companies are constantly forced with the struggle of making their interaction with consumers one that is memorable and effective.

The article titled, Southwest Airlines Offers Treats for Tweets, highlights how Southwest Airlines is rising to this challenge through their Twitter and Facebook interactions with customers. The article explains that Southwest Airlines launched a Twitter promotion in which they would give giftpacks out to customers. Theses giftpacks not only got consumers and Twitter followers talking about the company but it also raised awareness because all of the merchandise in the giftpack was branded with the Southwest Air logo.

Christie Day, a representative for Southwest Airlines said that the company was looking for a “fun and energetic way to reach customers.” Taking their interactive efforts to new heights, the company expanded their social media promotions to include Facebook. They gave prizes to consumers who answered Facebook trivia questions correctly. This not only increased the customer interaction aspect that the company was striving for, but it also taught people more about Southwest Airlines through the trivia questions that were asked.

Most companies may shy away from promotional giveaways because purchasing all of the merchandise can sometimes be expensive. Day mentions that Southwest Airlines didn’t need to purchase much for their promotion. She laughingly recalled “raiding the closets” and picking out their favorite promotional products for the gift-packs. Not only did this save money for the company, but most of the products tied in to the theme of the company. For example, the gift-packs included branded baggage tags and other items a person might need when traveling.

By using travel related items, they are further reinforcing their brand, as well as appealing to people who typically travel. Most of the people answering the trivia questions or “retweeting” something for  a Twitter gift-pack, are probably aware that the promotional products are travel related and probably want to win them to use when they travel.

Overall, Christie Day said that the promotional giveaways gave Southwest Airlines a lot of publicity and raised awareness among social media consumers. She even said that since they launched the promotion, Southwest Airlines has received more followers than they could imagine, most of which had no idea that Southwest Airlines had a Twitter before the giveaway promotions. They are clearly doing something right when it comes to reaching a travel related audience and  when it comes to staging meaningful interactions and promotions.

In this interview video with Christie Day herself, she talks about how Southwest Airlines started integrating the different platforms of social media into their corporate strategy. Start watching at 1:03 to hear about this integration. If you watch further on, Day gives advice to companies that aspire to use social media in a similar way that Southwest Air has.


By: Gina Mogavero

Hotels actively using Social Media

Being an active user in the world of social media will increase your company’s success, as long as you do it in the right way. Hotels are already figuring out how to maximize the benefits that come with using social media. In the article, “An Investigation of Hoteliers’ Attitudes toward the Use of Social Media as a Branding Tool”  Mohamed A. Nassar explains how hotels are making decisions about what social media platforms to engage in, and what’s working best for them.

Branding a hotel through social media makes the company to refer back to its core values. This forces a hotel to make sure it is grounded in its values, and creates a time to reevaluate what it stands for and wants to present to the public. Just this can make a hotel stronger from the beginning.

The hotel should decide what platforms would work best for their targeted audience, and what type of messages will be sent out through each one. You need to make sure you can integrate each medium into the other platforms to create more traffic. For example, you might use Twitter to post a message that has a link to your facebook page which then takes you to your company website.

If you are an active user in social media, your hotel will have the opportunity to build a stronger relationship with customers. Before social media, the customer would interact with the hotel only until the booking was complete. Now, hotels can communicate with customers even after their stay. They are able to receive higher feedback and work to solve any complaints. Hotels can also customize a guest’s stay by gathering pillow preference, what type of drinks they like, and offering different room designs. This allows for conversation to last longer, ultimately bringing customers back and creating loyalty to your hotel.

You can make your audiences feel privileged by offering discounts and special packages exclusively through social media. This keeps your audience engaged and brings business back to your hotel. Hotels are also using social media to test new services, decide on new locations, and create events by sending the message out and then analyzing the feedback. The two-way communication setup allows for a hotel to send out a message and then receive customer feedback, which eliminates the need for the hotel to keep checking back.

By actively engaging in social media hotels are expanding their customers and improving their reputation. Hotels must take advantage of this if they want to keep loyal guests, because otherwise someone could just find the closest hotel through a search engine, not caring which one it is. Trump Hotels have a presence in many social media platforms and work daily to keep everything updated, and customers engaged. In the article, “How Trump Hotels Use Social Media” Lisa Lavian explains how Trump Hotels are utilizing this new media.

By: Lauren Metz

Creating Dialogue With Your Customers

Engaging with consumers is extremely essential for any company. The travel and hospitality industry especially benefits from keeping the conversation alive between customers. Not only is it effective to do so through company websites and other social media networks, but creating dialogue by the CEO is an even better way to get more personal with your targeted audience. Drew Patterson, CEO of Jetsetter is an example of this trend. Mashable.com discusses this in How Jetsetter’s CEO Keeps the Travel Conversation Flowing with Social Media, and provides a “Questions and Answers” section with Patterson himself for other travel industries to take note of.

Jetsetter is only two years old and their CEO has created a lot of buzz for the new brand thanks to consistent communication on the web with consumers. Jetsetter has approximately two million members and gives out 20 to 40 deals a week on all types of hotels throughout the world. With 127,00 Facebook likes and 26,000 Twitter followers, Jetsetter allows its members to take advantage of the social media to learn about the company, places to visit, organize vacations and work with customer service. Drew Patterson has made tremendous efforts to constantly create dialogue with customers and has seen a great benefit as a result. First of all, Jetsetter’s business model involves having members associate travel with anything possible. Therefore, they like to post things online that involve anything travel-related to get that idea in the consumers’ head. Patterson describes social media to be, “immediate, lightweight, targeted and personal.” Consumers today are constantly seeking ways to directly communicate with companies. With social media, you are able to see what kind of people are behind the company and how they relate to the company’s values. Patterson also highlights the importance of establishing trust and confidence, especially in the travel industry. Thanks to online social media, travelers can talk to others who have experienced a certain destination, hotel or adventure. Feedback from others is key. Jetsetter’s social strategy continues to grow along with the company by now taking mobile and social media into consideration. This combination is very influential and impossible to ignore these days. Drew Patterson gives final advice to other company CEOs, which is to not allow yourself to get distracted with all the online activity constantly going on. Instead, focus on forming and maintaining a relationship with consumers. They are the ones to communicate with and accommodate for.

Take a look at Patterson’s Twitter and see for yourself how he discusses travel with his followers. He incorporates his personality as well as the company’s values and overall goals. Not to mention, he constantly updates his account by tweeting about the latest news on Jetsetter.

The journal article titled, In Search for an Online Discussion Value: Assessing Media-Initiated User Communication from a News Value Perspective, analyzes interactivity and creating unique discussions in the corporate world online. It offers helpful information to understand how and why online discussion is effective from the research perspective. The concept of “media-initiated user communication” is mentioned and explained why is used over the term “follow-up communication.” Media-initiated communication is defined by two factors. First, the media is the one to initiate ideas, concepts and news. Second, user communication differentiates information from professional communication. Thanks to the rise of the “web 2.0,” online conversations can be read publicly, tracked and dissected, which makes it easy and efficient for both the company and consumers. It is essential to take note of specific points on how media-initiated user communication influences constituents on page 7. To put it simply, more online activity from a brand results in a higher likelihood of an individual becoming engaged. Not to mention, diverse content on the web leads to other customers taking note of the published online media. It is also to understand the importance of network influences. When people see their peers comment and interact with a company online, they become more willing to join in on the conversation as well since these are the people that influence them the most. The value of online discussion is clearly imperative and the news value theory identifies what and why some news is necessary for conversation.

By: Stephanie Strickland

Social Media and Employee Education

The uses of social media are constantly expanding. Companies today are using these outlets to educate their employees in a number of different ways.

In Social Media: Learning’s New Ecosystem, Frank Kalman explores the ways companies are using social media to enhance company culture and employee education. Companies like IBM use their online communities in the recruiting process. As a result, newly hired employees have an understanding of the company culture and are welcomed into the company with a little more insight than ever before.

Social media is also being used as a way to promote community learning. With the aging working force, new technologies are not so familiar with everyone. The social media venues are acting as a way for others to teach each other how to use them. For example, a younger employee can teach an older employee how to use Facebook through Facebook.

Some companies like GE have their own internal networks that are used as discussion forums after learning classes. Social learning can be a beneficial driver in the overall company education for an employee.

Social media has motivated employees to learn on a higher level with larger groups of people. This allows for the marketplace of ideas and a better understanding of what is being learned. It seems as though employees are taking more responsibility within their respective companies and are being active learners within their communities. This is a shift from the traditional role of the employer taking more of the responsibility.

Another outlook on social media with a company is how to use it for hotel employee recruiting. This article breaks it down with a series of tips on how to construct your social media presence when recruiting within the hospitality industry. Pay attention to number four, “create a user experience.” This is one of the most important aspects of having a social media presence.

By: Adam Okimatsu