Tweets take wing in airline social media study

30 Mar,2012


By A Correspondent


Social media has transformed the customer into a powerful entity. No longer does one need to call customer service to express opinions or share concerns. The tendency of content on social media to spread at a rapid rate can easily build or tarnish the reputation of a brand. This is the single most important reason why brands have started to monitor conversations and manage their online reputations.


The domestic airline industry in India is growing at a healthy rate of 12 percent annually, and serves 2 percent of the world’s population (an extremely high figure). Therefore, it becomes necessary to understand what the customers want and what their concerns are. This can not only help in better customer service, but also increases brand fidelity.


Explaining this, Social Wavelength has monitored and analyzed conversations for the top 7 domestic air carriers in India to understand how they fare for different service types and departments, according to their customers. Using keywords that are most relevant to these carriers, they conducted a search of conversations on social media at the end of December 2011 and beginning of January 2012, and found 2712 relevant conversations. Each relevant conversation was classified into 6 verticals – Booking and Customer Service, General Feedback, Ground/Airport Service, Onboard Service, Punctuality, and Corporate (table shown in the Annexure). The output results were analyzed and the sentiment of each conversation was judged. The carriers considered for this study are Air India, Kingfisher Airlines, Jet Airways, GoAir, Indigo Airlines, JetLite, and SpiceJet.


Share of Voice

The two most prominent carriers in India by volume on social media are Air India and Kingfisher Airlines. Together, they accounted for 72 percent of the total volume of results. As observed in many other scenarios, the Pareto rule is found to be true here. (This rule states that, for many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.)


Jet Airways and Indigo Airlines come in at the third and fourth positions respectively. JetLite and SpiceJet were found in a very low number of results.



The SWL Index

Social Wavelength said it has derived the Social Wavelength Index (SWL Index) to calculate the sentiment share for each carrier with respect to the airlines industry. It is calculated as explained below:



On the basis of the SWL Index for conversations, we ranked each carrier vertical-wise and overall. Air India, due to the high share of positive and neutral conversations, ranked at the top of the table. Kingfisher Airlines, on the other hand, was the lowest in terms of SWL Index, having the maximum share of negative conversations in the overall data. Apart from Kingfisher, Jet Airways was the only carrier that had more negative conversations than the sum of positive and neutral conversations.


How The Verticals Fare…

Punctuality was the biggest concern among customers for almost every carrier monitored. This vertical had the lowest SWL Index at -9.07% and more than 85 percent of the conversations in this vertical were negative in tone. However, Indigo Airlines was mostly praised for timely arrivals and departures. In fact 89 percent of all punctuality-related positive conversations pertained to Indigo Airlines.


Onboard Services too had a substantially negative SWL Index, at -5.48 percent. Kingfisher ranked better in this department, due to mostly neutral results. Air India, though having more conversations about its onboard services, had more negative results too, which affected in its SWL Index falling to the lowest amongst carriers (-18.38 percent). A recent incident, where the in-flight crew of Jet Airways was in news for being fined for refusing to serve alcohol to a female passenger, decreased its SWL Score to -14.23 percent. Without these results, Jet Airways’ SWL Index would have been better by 7.10 percent. This shows that even one incident can greatly affect the overall reputation of a brand.


Although there were fewer conversations for the Booking and Customer Service vertical, the share of its negative conversations was second only to the punctuality vertical. The reason it fared better than the Onboard Services vertical was because it had fewer negative results out of the total volume. SpiceJet had the best ranking for its Booking and Customer Service, while Jet Airways had the lowest. Social Wavelength’s analysis of this showed that that there were a few customers that were unhappy with the online booking procedures for Jet Airways, and few complained about not getting refunds for cancelled flights.


Conversation Sources

Twitter accounted for the most number of conversations – 9 out of every 10 conversations. This platform has been very popular to share ideas and opinions, due to short updates that people find easier and less time-consuming to read. Mainstream media followed with 7.2 percent of the total relevant conversations, consisting mainly of news websites and articles.


Sentiment Analysis of Conversations on Twitter

Twitter, due to the high volume of conversations in the data, was the most influential platform for the overall sentiment of every carrier. When carriers were ranked based only on their conversations on Twitter, the results were very similar to the overall table. Almost half of the conversations found on the micro-blogging site were negative in tone. Being the single most prominent source of conversations, Twitter needs to be actively monitored by carrier companies.


Demographics (Twitter)



Top News

There were a lot of mainstream news articles in the period between December 19 and December 26, 2012. These are the top news items for this period. (Since the number of conversations for Indigo Airlines, GoAir, JetLite, and SpiceJet is low, they have not been included.)




Social Wavelength found a few notable Twitter users and bloggers who tweeted about the services of carriers.


*True Reach is the number of people a twitter user influences, both within his/her immediate network and across their extended networks. Source:




The details of the verticals considered when analyzing conversations:


Social media agency Social Wavelength was founded in 2009 and its clients include Channel [V], Kotak Mahindra, Idea Cellular and Havells, among others.


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One response to “Tweets take wing in airline social media study”


    wow ! wonderful article….really completely describing about in detail about aviation sector with covering all domestic airlines..really nice article.
    VED PARKASH KUMAR-Brand Consultant

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