Flip.to helps hotels & restaurants boost their brand & earn more guests.
Stephanie Gehman is the marketing manager for Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania and self-describes herself on her Twitter account as an “…aerophile and perpetual learner anytime, marketing & social media nerd full-time (and) the voice of @HIAairport.
As bragging rights on Google+, she claims: “she who loves her job does not labor.” But labor she does – as she’s tenacious in leading the social media charge for a relatively small airport in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. And yet, Simpliflying, one of the world’s top airline blogs rates Harrisburg as one of the finest airports in the world driving customer engagement on par with Copenhagen, Bangalore International and Boston Logan.
Today, we sat down with Stephanie to gain some insight as to how she puts the social media puzzle pieces together for an airport.
As an airport pioneer in social media, what factors prompted you to kick-start a social media marketing plan for the Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) all the way back in 2008?
I was social networking on my own and saw the potential for social media to be utilized in business to reach our customers “where they were at”, so I took a chance on that potential with a blog and a Facebook profile, followed up shortly thereafter by a Twitter account.
Since Google has just tipped its toe into the social media waters, how do you see MDT interfacing with Google+? Any distinct advantages or differences from Facebook?
I have some ideas as to how MDT will make use of Google+, but you’ll have to wait and see how that to unfold! In my opinion, I see Google+ as being less crowded as Facebook with personal accounts, so there’s a less cluttered space for businesses to engage with those in their “Circles.” However, if Google+ is adopted by the same amount of people using Facebook, that issue could quickly change.
Have you been able to attach an Return on Engagement (ROE) and Return on Investment (ROI) to any of MDT’s social media campaigns?
We measure all social media efforts (not just campaigns) based upon SEO ranking, website traffic, community building, registrations and download rates, subscribers, engagement, influence and reputation.
HIA Flyer Rewards is one of the few loyalty programs offered by an airport for its arriving and departing passengers. How has social media assisted you in building a membership base and what does your program offer passengers they may not be receiving from their airline loyalty programs?
Social media has influenced roughly a 10% membership increase for Flyer Rewards. Our program offers its members use of our airport-owned and operated frequent flyer club, in addition to a handful of other perks. We’re not looking to compete with airline loyalty programs, but to be a partner and complimentary program.
Airports have been experiencing limited revenue increases from non-aeronautical outlets such as concourse shops and food & beverage concessions. What social media resources has HIA employed to reach departing and arriving passengers regarding promotions and special offers?
To-date we’ve used location-based apps/sites, Twitter, QR (quick response) Codes and Facebook to extend offers, promotions and the like to passengers.
Flip.to News has a Twitter account (@FliptoNews) with over 3700+ followers and a Facebook Fan page with slightly over 100+ LIKES. Similarly, according to airline blog Simpliflying, it also seems that many airports prefer Twitter over other social networks. What advice would you give a social media marketing service such as Flip.to pertaining to the value of managing both a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook?
I’m by no means an expert, but as a seasoned social media practitioner, I’ve found Facebook and Twitter to be both tremendously valuable to MDT. Our following on both platforms is strong, engaged and providing invaluable feedback.
To speak to your question about Flip.To News’ fan page, there’s no harm in trying Facebook advertising. If you’re familiar with the demographics of the audience you wish to reach via your fan page, you can target your advertising based upon those statistics. And, if your fan base begins to grow, I’d recommend managing those fans and your Twitter followers by managing their expectations.
Any business before entering the social sphere should have a plan, goals and rules of engagement for their social networking. I’d urge you to let your followers and fans know what they can expect from Flip.to News on Twitter and Facebook. For example, get into the habit of posting or tweeting with a routine frequency, be consistent in your responses to fans and followers, if you’re only able to monitor your accounts at certain times of the day; don’t hesitate to post that information, too. These are just a few of the many details involved in a successful social media management. Ultimately, you have to know where your customers’ and your priorities lie before engaging – and then stick to them.
On a lighter note, what is your favorite winter vacation spot?
My favorite winter vacation spot is the Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont for a good clip of cross country skiing. The resort’s groomed trails are phenomenal. Not familiar with the Von Trapp family? Think, Sound of Music!