Mumbai based Jet Airways (mobile website)is celebrating the crossing of 100,000 fans of its Facebook page. It is a significant statement on the growth of social networking in India that this achievement has been reached in less than a year of the airline launching its social media efforts and January 19, 2010.
The airline is marking its celebration with a Jet to Milan contest which runs until December 14, 2010. As part of the contest, guests must upload an image of any destination in Italy, tell about the place in not more than 200 characters and answer three simple questions on Jet Airways’ new services to Milan. A lucky winner will win return tickets for a couple, on Jet Airways’ Milan Delhi.
The airline launched its Facebook community, with the primary objective of engaging with passengers apart from providing guests with real-time news, updates about flight schedules, new guest programs, route additions, services and special offers, etc.
Jet’s experience highlights the lack of mobile driven social networking in India, as well as the general ignorance of privacy concerns. In the US and Europe, the social media channel of choice for airlines, is Twitter, which is ideally suited to the smartphone, Blackberry, iPhone and Android environment. Comparing Jet Airways to JetBlue of the US — on Facebook, JetBlue only has about 4.2x the fans of Jet Airways, but has almost 1.6 million followers on Twitter or 307x the meagre 5,213 followers of Jet Airways.
With the expected roll out of 3G services soon, one can expect more data-service-enabled smartphones entering the customer base. Operationally too, Jet Airways along with most Asian airlines, has a lot to learn from JetBlue which succeeds due to its constant monitoring and extremely fast responses on Twitter, and protection of passenger privacy by using the Direct Message feature of Twitter (reflected by the high number of Twitter users JetBlue follows). I recommend reading these two articles (article 1, article 2) which highlight how JetBlue uses Twitter to enhance the customer service experience.
The social media team at Jet Airways is good, and having met them, I wish them more success. I do hope they read this article and implement a strong Twitter policy. Time for them to repeat their Facebook success on Twitter.