NB: This is a guest article by Marco Serusi, a Spain-based community engagement executive with SimpliFlying.
We recently talked about the Eight steps to driving results for travel brands from the new Facebook Timeline,Â highlighting some key aspects of the new layout for brands.
The mandatory switch went live, whether fans or owners were ready or not, to every page on March 30.
Now, we take a look at how airlines have adapted to this new layout and bring you a selection of the five finest examples of airline brand pages highlighting different ways in which the new Timeline can be leveraged to drive engagement with fans and build a loyal community of followers.
1. BMI takes the Timeline seriously
One of the airlines that surprised us the most was the British airline BMI which, even though it had been recently been put on sale with little hope of preserving its brand, created one of the best airline pages on Facebook.
The airline embraced the Timeline concept in full, starting from its cover image that shows the evolution of the airlineâ€™s brand and aircrafts in one neatly designed image.
Furthermore it also created a complete timeline that goes back to the late 1930s and made excellent use of the starring function to highlight relevant posts like the approval by the EU competition authority of its sale to the IAG group.
2. KLMÂ gets an eye-catching cover image and highlights fan loyalty
KLM is a truly talented airline when it comes to innovating on social media and, of course, the Timeline could not be an exception.
Unlike many airlines that waited until the last minute, KLM uploaded its first cover image on March 1, at the very beginning of the 30-day period provided by Facebook, and used the “adjustment” period to make constant improvements to its page.
As well as having one of the few cover images that complete the profile picture, and a timeline that goes back to the 1920s, the most remarkable aspect of this page is the usage of starred posts to highlight not only the usual corporate images but also content posted by its followers like the image below:
3. JetBlue makes the best of the limited tabs on offer and unleashes the potential of “milestones”
Jet Blue is another of the usual suspects when it comes to being proactive on social media and we have included it in this Top Five for two main reasons.
The first is the way in which it has customized the icons in its app/tab bar, giving them a clean and extremely visual design that appeals to the users and fits perfectly within the general page design.
The second reason, however, is perhaps the most interesting one. In our previous article we mentioned briefly that airlines could use milestones to highlight their new destinations and including images that might inspire people to travel.
JetBlue seems to have embraced the idea and went a step further by using the recent addition of a new destination to neatly place a route map right in the middle of its Facebook page.
4. EmiratesÂ unleashes its latest brand campaign using the cover image to optimal effect
Unlike our two previous cases Emirates is not an airline that is generally thought to be cutting edge in social media and we were pleasantly surprised when we visited their page and noticed their excellent use of the cover image space.
Although Facebook makes it clear that the cover image is not to be used for advertising purposes and cannot contain calls to action, web addresses etc. it does not say that it canâ€™t be used for campaigns or, for example, to say hello.
Hereâ€™s what Emirates did:
The phrase â€śHello Tomorrowâ€ť is part of Emiratesâ€™ latest brand campaign where the airline asks its Facebook followers where theyâ€™d like to go tomorrow.
But it doesnâ€™t end there. We suggested in the previous article that the cover image should be used to transmit the essence of the brand – this is exactly what Emirates was able to do by giving an image of an airline that looks to the future, and at the same time inspires people to travel asking its users to dream about future travels.
Moreover, the airline also found a way to infuse life into its cover page and appears to be changing the cover image daily, thus giving its users more reasons to visit the page. Hereâ€™s another image that was seen a day after the one pictured above:
5. DeltaÂ fuels the nostalgia factory and builds an emotional connect with its followers
Deltaâ€™s Facebook page offers a different but highly visual interpretation of the new cover image.
Rather than choosing to use a slogan, an image of its aircraft or one of its destinations, the airline decided to use a picture of an old sign that, judging from the comments made by users, appears to have both a historical connection with the brand and an emotional one with its most faithful followers.
Furthermore the airline seems to have made an effort to make sure that the background of the logo on the profile picture matched the one on the cover page and created custom images for all its tabs, thus creating a smooth visual experience for the viewer.
A cautionary tale
While analyzing almost a hundred airline and airport Facebook pages, we were surprised by the number of airlines that had not correctly adjusted their pages, sometimes including elements like calls to action on their cover images or just leaving their pages as they were, without cover.
However there was one thing that caught our attention more than anything else, and it was a reminder of the fact that such a large image at the top of a Facebook Page can be very beneficial but could also backfire.
One image that triggered an unexpected reaction:
It was published on March 30 by Virgin Atlantic, with a note asking its followers to guess where the birds were going.Â Apparently the campaign was designed to promote a new flight to Canada and the birds depicted are Canadian geese.
However, many users rather than replying that the birds were flying to Canada decided to look at the image in a different light and offered the following answers:
So, before you jump onto the bandwagon, which you must, carefully review what content and images you will use. Even the slightest indiscretion could lead to a backlash in this age of instant reactions.
Plan and choose carefully, and execute with vigour.