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Turkish Airlines puts social at the centre of service and makes it fun.
Monday, 14th October 2013
Source : EyeforTravel Online Marketing, Mobile & Social Med
In 2011, Turkey was the sixth most visited destination in the world; while political unrest this year may have impacted tourism numbers, its national airline has not slowed down in its quest to drive success through social media. Pamela Whitby takes a look at how the airline is approaching its social strategy.

You name the social platform and it’s seem highly likely that you will find that Turkish Airlines has a presence on it. “Turkish Airlines’ presence on social media is immense!” says Neşet Dereli Interactive Marketing Manager at Turkish Airlines. This is no understatement. The airline is active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Weibo, VKontakte, Orkut, and WeChat, to name a few.

“Not only are we an airline that flies to the most countries, we also represent one of those most intensively involved in social media activities,” says Dereli, who will be speaking in Amsterdam at the EyeforTravel Online Marketing, Mobile & Social Media in Travel Europe 2013 (Oct 24-25). Indeed, the company uses many types of social media to meet the customer during the inspiration and planning phases, but then also to drive engagement once the trip is over.

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Today Turkish Airlines manages over 20 local Facebook and Twitter accounts. “Our main philosophy is to be ‘globally yours as a local,” says Dereli. “After all every country is different and has its own taste and culture so it’s really important to be connected and keep updated with their headlines.”

For this reason, Turkish Airlines’ is strongly multicultural, so that it is able can work closely with local agencies.

Three successful campaigns

Turkish Airlines uses its social media platforms and website to inform fans about global events, destinations as well as new developments or trends. A big part of this involves gamification. “We want them to benefit from following and engaging with us,” says Dereli. Here are three campaigns that achieved this:

1.     The London 2012 QR campaign: Here the airline created QR codes in the image of national flags, with for example Go Singapore. The aim was to make the brand and its destinations visible and to benefit from the surge of visitors to London. The person who downloaded the most codes would win a round-trip to any Turkish Airline destination.

  • QR codes were downloaded 1,400 times
  • The mobile website of the campaign received 20,000 visits.
  • It allowed the airline to track check-in data in real time and combine a digital campaign with a real world experience.
2.     Hard to Say Easy to Fly: Also in 2012, another fun Facebook-based campaign was to challenge fans to try to pronounce some of the tricky destination names that the airline flies to eg Dnepropetrovsk, Guangzhou and Ljubljana. After ‘liking’ the specially designed app, contestants were prompted to pronounce 14 city names using a webcam. The best effort would win a trip to one of those cities.
  • The contest was promoted to 1.5million Facebook fans and 280,000 Twitter followers, which generated 4266 clicks.
  • A version of the video showing people attempting to pronounce the names garnered 22,000 views.
3.     Zero-to-Hero: To announce its inflight Wifi service it unveiled a cartoon-based Facebook contest to win a four-night trip to New York. It created a special Facebook app for the competition which contestants had to ‘like’ before getting creative and writing a story about how an average person could use onboard Wifi to do something extraordinary.
  • Achieved 500 to 1300 likes within three weeks
  • Used to track analytics on the contest which saw over 146,000 clicks.
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Putting customers first

In the travel space, putting the customer first is absolutely essential. With hundreds of queries answered every month, Turkish Airlines aims to actively respond to social media queries and complaints.

Turkish Airlines does not only use social media to entertain and inform users, but also to learn from them and garner feedback to improve services. “That’s why once in a while we spontaneously pick a highly engaged fan and surprise him or her with a gift,” says Dereli.
Keeping up to date with digital media and trying out new things is important to establish what works and what doesn’t.

“Our experience has taught us how to use the right channels for the right news,” says Dereli. Special attention is paid to social interaction. “We want to communicate with our fans in the most natural way and use different styles in different channels. It’s crucial to adjust to your community and keep them on board,” he adds. For example, shorter messages are sent via Twitter but more formal language is used on LinkedIn. “The content varies too, of course,” he says.

When it comes to which channel works best for new product launches, brand awareness or repositioning, Dereli is clear that there is no one-size-fits all. “Depending on what we want to communicate, we plan a social media strategy that fits best to our product,” he says.

For up-to-the minute social insights from Turkish Airlines join us in Amsterdam for the EyeforTravel Online Marketing, Mobile & Social Media in Travel Europe 2013 (Oct 24-25).
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