On the Wings of Social Media, Spring Aims to Soar.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Friday, 21st September 2012
Given the proven power of social media in driving its brand awareness in China, Spring Airlines is hoping to replicate that success globally as it expands international flights to 20% of route network.

Jonathan Hutt, speaking at the LCC & New Age Airlines conference in Macau, said the airline was setting up a new team to drive its social media strategy across global markets. "We have a limited social media presence internationally but this will change as we expand our international routes."

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThe airline does all its social media inhouse and Hutt said more resources would be invested into the team which should grow to 20 people by year end. It has set up a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.

To fuel overseas ecommerce, it has set up websites in Thai, Korea and Japanese and is working on a new international online platform to be ready next year.

Spring is regarded as China's industry leader in direct website sales. In 2010, 75% of its business came direct through the website; today it's 85% when the industry average is 10%. Mobile accounted for 5% of sales in 2010 and 8.5% in 2011; the industry average is less than 1%.

"Social media is driving our growth," Hutt said. "Brand development through social media is very critical to how we see Spring developing."

With 34% of Chinese consumers online and highly engaged – 92% contribute to social media – and with 950 million mobile users and 30% accessing the Internet via mobile, Hutt said that Chinese travellers are talking about every stage of their experience and this allows brands to engage, collaborate and build loyalty and awareness through these channels.

"Chinese consumers are predisposed to receiving messages from brands on social media and 53% of Chinese internet users join branded communities to learn more about the brands," he said.

Their own studies show that 60% of customers learn about its brand from the Internet with search accounting for 40% and another 40% from social networks and friends.

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