Hello readers, welcome to this week’s Teardown Report! Lee Ann Tegtmeier is at the MRO IT Forum in Chicago, where she is meeting with software providers and operators about how to improve the exchange of data throughout the MRO marketplace. She brought up an interesting question in her blog: What would make technical data exchange better for your organization? She has already garnered some comments about the issue. Please add to the conversation.
Virgin America: America's most-loved airline?
Today I wanted to focus on a social media story that has been making headlines here at Aviation Week and in the consumer press. The New York-based company Amplicate uses social media data as a marketing tool, and one if its analysts recently came out with a report about the most loved and loathed airlines in the industry. The report, entitled “Public Opinion on U.S. Airlines on Social Media,” uses more than 30,000 opinions on 15 U.S. airlines in the past 12 months, which have been shared ten times that amount. Out of all of the opinions, 43% were positive.
I don’t have the whole report handy, as it costs an “introductory price” of $139. But we don’t need to spend any money to know that people do get pretty mean on Twitter when things don’t go their way, and airlines seem to be dealing with that fact.
Our airlines reporter Andy Compart wrote a story about this, which we posted on Oct. 18 on our web site and in Aviation Daily. Based on his story, aviation is doing worse on Twitter than the transportation industry (60% positive) but better than other obvious targets ripe for negativity: Banks (16% positive) and U.S. health insurance (%30).
According to Compart’s story, U.S. Airways and American Airlines are the airlines faring the worst, with 11 and 12% positive opinions, respectively. United and Spirit didn’t do so hot, either. Virgin America had the best score with 97% positive opinions, followed by JetBlue and Southwest. But those rankings are very fluid. We saw that news events impacted the opinions, and in some cases severely. For example, Southwest Airlines’ positive posts dropped from 77% to 59% between Q1 and Q2 2011 after announcing its new frequent flyer program.
Compart and I were both thinking similar things, as our main thought was “do these rankings really matter?” Spirit Airlines had lots of bad posts, but they are not doing horribly. And even though Ryanair received the worst opinions in the European ranking similar to this one, the airline is still financially successful. Amplicate says that the airlines need to be mindful of these postings, but I wonder how much they will do so.
So, we have always known that having a public sphere like Twitter is going to spell trouble at some point. Any time you have a public forum, people will vent their opinions. It’s human nature. But I’m wondering if stories like these are going to scare airlines from delving into more MRO social media offerings and keep the small suppliers from seeing the benefits of social networking. We have talked to many companies in the past who have made social media work for them, but I could definitely see stories like these prompting those unfamiliar with online communications to say “forget about it, I’m not putting myself on the line like that!”
Again, dealing with an MRO audience is a lot different than dealing with the general flying public, and I don’t doubt that discussion in that sphere would be specialized, useful and more tactful than what we see here. It’s just something to think about. As a trade publication, we understand that things like this happen, and at least I’m not putting too much stock in the results to reflect how well an airline is operating. Still, though, it will be interesting to see the response of these carriers.