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American Airlines has made huge strides in social and the new world of mobile commerce after a rebranding earlier this year for this first time in over 46 years.

During a recent talk at Integrated Marketing Week, Jonathan Pierce, Director, Social Media Communications at American Airlines, gave us info on how global social communications played a part for the airline.

The role of social in American Airlines' integrated marcomm strategy

According to Pierce, social has really played a part in the following areas helping to shape the strategy and brand:

  • Speed to market.
  • Amplifying the story.
  • Connecting campaigns to enhance impact.
  • Real-time understanding of customer response.
  • Positioning.

One of the things we learned during the relaunch was that within minutes we were getting feedback off social on things like terms and conditions, if a creative was off...etc. Customers were telling us immediately if we were off, and you need to adjust your campaigns on the spot.

Citing further evidence of the real-time nature of today's brand presence on social, Pierce shared insights on the last minute nature of American's visual identity relaunch.

This was a massive project worked on by multiple groups internally for the better part of a year. There were five different plans, but we weren't sure which one they were going to launch until very close to the actual day. Once we rolled out, the conversation was driven by individuals, not news outlets.

Results: 21,000 total mentions Jan 17-20, creating 63M impressions. #newAmerican became trending hashtag on Jan 17

The #newAmerican takes SXSW

According to Pierce the brand/marketing presence at SXSW in March was truly an excersize in connecting multiple departments.

You have sales wanting to talk to SMEs and startups. Marketing wanting to showcase the new brand, and social connected to dashboards and metrics.

The team managed to pull it off for great impact, with some engaging ways for interacting with the attendees and beyond. For example, the Paper Napkin pitch called for anyone to submit a business idea for the chance to win 4,000 Business ExtrAA points or 50,000 AAdvantage miles.

Tying offline/online together, and helping to get some calls away from teh support center I'm sure, the submissions were collected via Google Docs and dropping off the physical napkins handed out on-site in Austin.

How social can help with ground up stories, as well as extending media impact

Pierce and his team also wanted to emphasize they are an international airline. In order to bring out the diversity inherent in the company, and smartly use employees for content, a social video series focusing on internal department expertise was born.

Customer service obviously gets a lot of repeat questions coming in. We took this as an opportunity to divise short 3-4 minute presentations that can reamain on social media as answers. For example we had revenue management explain why changes to fairs happen so often.

Results: Nearing 3M YouTube views to date.

The concept took off and the company is now crowd-sourcing which next questions to answer. The content was also shot in such a way that it may be re-purposed into longer form for other use.

Let us know what you think of American Airlines since the rebrand, and some of the social use cases above!

Ryan Sommer

Published 13 June, 2013 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

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