May 22, 2024

Social Science

April Waterston

Social media offers a mountain of information on what your passenger wants – but only if you know how to gather and interpret it, says April Waterston

Social media often gets bad press over bullying and trolls or the life hours lost sharing cute cat photos and memes, but it really does increasingly have a serious side for the business world too. 

Over the past decade, the internet has infiltrated every aspect of modern life, with younger generations in particular constantly taking to social media to share their lives and, more importantly, their opinions. 

From sharing close-up photos of their #perfect #avocado #brunch to berating poor customer service, there’s a whole wealth of insights online just waiting to be accessed. But how does a business find the info they need when, on average, 95 million posts on Instagram and 500 million tweets are shared every day? 

Social listening

One company helping businesses make the most of social media is Awario. With its social listening and monitoring tool, Awario helps companies access data including insights on customers, market and competitors, all of which can be gained through tracking mentions on news sites, blogs, forums and social media. 

In-house social media or analysis teams can use the tool to track online mentions and engage with users in real time. “We offer a self-service tool – typically, a marketing team will use the platform to set up alerts, interact with users and analyse statistics provided by the tool,” explains Pavel Demidchick, customer success manager at Awario. “As passengers share their experiences – pleasant or, most commonly, not so much – Awario can help you discover these clients and join the conversation right from our tool.” 

The Belarus-based start-up made its first venture into the aviation world last year when it published a social listening report of the 10 best airlines of 2019, according to passengers. It selected 52 of the world’s leading airlines (based on online rankings from sites such as Skytrax and TripAdvisor), and tracked the social media and news mentions over three months. 

It ended up with 2,860,554 mentions, which it then analysed to determine which gained ‘the best sentiment’ for passenger opinion. British Airways came out on top – even with passengers being subject to delays and strikes at the time.

Social prediction 

Tools like Awario are great for an overview of what people are saying about your business in real-time. However, with the right information, it’s possible to predict what they’re going to be saying tomorrow, next month – maybe even next year. For example, Black Swan offers a social prediction tool called Fethr. David Griffiths, vp content, Black Swan, explains the difference between this and social listening.

“Social listening explores a snapshot in time around a series of predefined phrases and keywords,” he says. “Essentially, social listening technology looks at what it knows to look at based on the phrases it has been told to search for. 

“Social intelligence and prediction covers all the same ground the listening does but then takes things a few degrees further, with more involved data science and the use of bespoke, smart and curated datasets. All the datasets we leverage go through continuous processes of topic expansion and modelling, allowing us to identify trends, opportunities and threats we don’t know to even be looking for – as well as those we do know to look for.”

Stay ahead

By using this data, Fethr can predict what actions businesses should be taking to meet evolving customer needs to stay ahead of the curve. Some of the world’s biggest brands use Black Swan’s trend-tracking technologies, and the likes of Google, Pepsi and Unilever have created products inspired by its results.

Recently Fethr has worked with a low-cost carrier in Europe. The aim was to identify trends and growth areas to provide a robust recommendation for range optimisation. “We’ve also just delivered a passenger-centric sustainability index for one of world’s leading airline groups based on 800 million passenger conversations,” Griffiths elaborates.
They have also been surfacing trends to help improve the dining experience and menus of another leading global airline’s Business class offering.

Digging deeper

Going deeper still, Focus is a tool by Spectra Partnership that provides insight into consumers and trends from content gathered across multiple online platforms – and has been used by brands such as Cathay Pacific, WestJet and Marriott. “Focus is designed to develop a deeper understanding of not only what people are doing, but why they’re doing it,” says Jonathan Magee, managing partner at Spectra Partnership.

“Our tool draws from social media, review websites, forums, discussions and traditional media – any publicly available online source.” 

Focus shapes its search query depending on what the customer wants to know. Do they want to identify personas within their business travel segment, so they can better target them individually? Or is it that they’re trying to better understand areas for improvement within the customer journey? Once these key knowledge gaps are identified, the search queries can be structured to pull in the most relevant information. Additional tools are then used to clean up the data to produce a concise dataset ready for human analysis. 

“In addition we can also help conduct a competitive landscape review,” Magee says. “Say you want to compare one airline’s offer against anothers in terms of catering competition. A study can specifically look at how people are seeing the catering a whole, identify the broader relevant trends; and highlight opportunities where maybe it’s not being done so well. We can look into particular pain points and use a comparative tool to get deeper insights on the competition.”

Empowered decisions

The insight analysis Spectra Focus provides can be invaluable in pitches. This could be anything from analysing brand perceptions and matching these to the values of airlines for brand partnerships, to identifying the interests and preferences of passengers based on their Instagram profiles to determine what additions to the passenger experience would mean most to them. Companies like FORMIA and Global-C have worked with Focus to provide added justification to their proposals in airline tenders, and adding these well researched facts rather than simply making assumptions may just be the future of true improvement in passenger experience.

As Magee says: “Too often tenders get issued based on a ‘gut feeling’ of what passengers want, but we can help facilitate a clearer brief by showing what passengers are actually interested in and responding to, so suppliers can offer a solution based on those facts.”