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Commercial Helicopter industry under served online? Not exactly says Vertical magazine! September 24, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, FaceBook, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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In my recent post “Civilian Helicopters: the most under served AeroSpace sector for online news and information?”, I suggested that more should be done online for this important portion of the industry. My post sollicited an immediate reaction from leading commercial helicopters magazine Vertical, pointing out that I had not considered FaceBook in my analysis.

I usually do not think of FaceBook when I write about online B2B in the AeroSpace industry because of my strongly held motto: “Personal FaceBook and Professional LinkedIn”. However, based on the suggestion from Vertical, I added the number of page “likes” for the organizations I reviewed in my commercial helicopter online coverage statistics. The results were impressive! The top 5 Facebook pages were:

Organization Facebook “Likes”
Vertical magazine 146076
HeliOps magazine 135830
Bell Helicopters 83906
Airbus Helicopters 50468
Sikorsky Helicopters 18627

The Civil Helicopter industry on FaceBook

Elan HeadOver 146 thousand fans on FaceBook? I had to find out more from Vertical magazine. Elan Head, their award-winning Special Projects Editor and an accomplished helicopter pilot and instructor, agreed to an in-depth interview. It turns out she has put a lot of thoughts in the use of the internet in the commercial helicopter industry, especially when it comes to safety.

Elan started by explaining that “Our weekly total reach on Facebook is typically around 300,000 to 400,000, although it has been as high as 2.3 million. Our weekly engagement is typically around 10 percent of our total reach. Our target audience is the helicopter operators, i.e. the people that buy, fly and maintain helicopters. We are proud that a full half of the fans are are in the 18-34 age group with another 21 percent in the 35-44 age group. 76% are from outside the USA.” These are impressive numbers and they reveal an entire group of people not necessarily engaged in B2B sites, traditional industry media, or Twitter. But perhaps they are just a bunch of Helicopter Geeks (#HeloGeeks), fascinated by beautiful photographs of helicopters? “We find that all our Facebook fans have a great passion for helicopters but also have a tremendous amount of insight and comments”, responded Elan, “It is not rare for us to derive great story ideas for the magazine from discussions that initiated on FaceBook. We also know they are industry professionals, because one of our most popular article online is a 5,000-word story on attitude indicators, reflecting our audience’s passion and personal investment in the business.”

Discussing this audience on FaceBook, we came to the conclusion that they prefer this medium because they can engage in the conversation as an individual rather than a representative of their business. This is perhaps a symptom of the continued disengagement between management and the people on the front lines when it comes to business and particularly safety. The discussion at a B2B level is quite different that the “in the tranches” remarks found in FaceBook comments. There is really no online forum where real industry issues can be discussed away from the eyes of the general public but without the distortions of corporate “policies”.

Elan said that Vertical’s social media presence has, in fact, evolved pretty naturally from their traditional identity as a print magazine: “By targeting operators, Vertical Magazine has always been close to the front lines of the helicopter industry, which are populated by people who are incredibly passionate about all things helicopter. I think that’s the passion you see reflected in our Facebook page, which has become a place for people to share photos and videos of their helicopter operations from around the world. Facebook is not a medium for sharing hourly news updates, but when we do share significant stories, they tend to generate a lot of shares and lively conversation. Our migration to Twitter has followed the migration of helicopter operators and their employees to that platform — which has certainly happened, but I do think it has lagged behind the fixed-wing world. The general online conservatism of the helicopter industry may have something to do with the fact that a lot of people in it do spend six or eight months of the year in the bush… if you get antsy without being able to check your phone every five minutes, you’re not going to do very well in a remote fire or mining camp.”

The role of traditional magazine in the online landscape

Vertical’s online presence evolved from a magazine focused on in-depth articles and gorgeous pictures, printed on glossy paper 6 times a year. They are trying to tackle the challenge of maintaining credibility not only with the industry’s C-level executives, but also with the helicopter pilot and field mechanics who spend eight months out of the year in the bush. But with a new generation of professionals and a greater portion of the industry connected online, breaking news is certainly becoming more important. This has been demonstrated by the arrival of new “hot-news-only” players like HeliHub.com that have found a niche in the online commercial helicopter audience. The increasing competitive pressure to post press releases on line as soon as possible, along with the fact that there are over 4 PR people for every journalist employed in the USA, worries Elan who is passionate about journalistic integrity and PR curration: “we are increasing our ability to devote the necessary resources to help grow our original online coverage.” To that end, Vertical has recently hired Rotor & Wing’s editor-in-chief, Andrew Parker. Despite this effort, it has not traditionally been the vocation of Vertical magazine to fill this “hot news” gap.

A strong and central “voice of the industry” still lacking

Elan agrees that there is room for a sort of “community site” for professionals by professionals. This could be a sort of “industry private” hub, linking to content from existing sources such as Vertical’s in depth stories, acting as the voice of the industry when incorrect or misleading reports appear in traditional media, and offer a practical use of online collaboration and discussion tools to improve commercial helicopter industry efficiency and safety. When I asked her who should create this online presence, she simply answered: “That is a very good question!”

Do you think that there is a need for such community site? If so, who should manage it: an association, a magazine, others? What should be their mission and site content? Feel free to leave your comments below.


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National AeroSpace Week Online Coverage: Let’s make it better next year September 22, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Social Media, Twitter.
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According to the National Aerospace Week website, this event was established by the Aerospace Industries Association in 2010 as “an opportunity for the aerospace industry and its supporters to recognize the enormous contribution that the industry makes to America’s economy, competitiveness and national security.” To support the effort, both houses of Congress issued a resolution on September 13, 2010 establishing the third week in September annually as National Aerospace Week. AIA subsequently launched the hashtag #AeroWeek to facilitate the exchange of information online during this event. On the occasion of its fifth edition, I wanted to see how well the event was covered online. I tracked National AeroSpace Week activity online during the week of September 14-20, 2014 and tried to assess how well the event was promoted; who were the main influencers; and how companies as well as government entities took part. Here are my findings.

AEROWEEK 2014 ONLINE COVERAGE

In terms of numbers, there was descent activity online during the week, with over 300 twitter posts reaching 715,000 users and 1.6M impressions. These are not bad results, especially because there was very little traffic about this event online prior to September 14.
AeroWeek Stats
AIA, the event organizer, did a good promotion effort throughout the week, posting and re-tweeting information from various sources, posting on FaceBook, as well as keeping the dedicated website updated. Adam Kostecki, Manager of Communications for AIA reported that the event website received 2,182 unique visitors for 3,902 pageviews during the 7-day period. “It was the level of online coverage we expected for this event”, said Kostecki, “on par with what we saw in the last couple of years.” When looking at who else was talking about National AeroSpace Week online, three groups were represented:

  • Government: The week started with an official statement from the US Secretary of Commerce “applauding the Aerospace industry.” The state of Utah also embraced the event with Governor Gary Herbert speaking at the Air Force Association’s quarterly Industrial Associates luncheon. He also proclaimed September 15 “Young Women in Aviation Day” in Utah.
  • Business: Honeywell, Deloitte, Wire Masters, and ATK were the most active businesses throwing their support behind the event. @Honeywell was particularly good with many uplifting and fun posts throughout the week. Out of the other major AeroSpace companies, there were only a couple of “timid” posts from Boeing Defense and Rockwell Collins. I noticed a glaring absence of online support from Lockheed Martin, UTC AeroSystems, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and GEAviation, just to name the top AeroSpace companies in the US. Asked about this absence, Kostecki explains that “each of these companies support the industry in many ways throughout the year. Because this is a US Government established event, they probably feel that it is best for the AIA, the association in charge of representing their interests on Capitol Hill, to be active on their behalf.”
  • AeroSpace Media: Other than coverage of a Lord Corporation event by a local news station, Aviation Today was the only US Industry News outfit to cover the event. There were absolutely NO words from AIN Online or AviationWeek on their websites or their twitter feeds.

So, overall, this was a good event for AIA, but I cannot help but feel that it could have been a lot more. If the US Government proclaimed that the third week of September should highlight AeroSpace, I think the industry should take that opportunity to show the rest of the country what it is all about in a much more prominent way.

SUGGESTIONS FOR NEXT YEAR

I think the AeroSpace industry already has enough “physical” meetings, so National AeroSpace Week could very well be a “Virtual” event happening online and with the purpose of being picked-up by the mainstream media and educational institutions at all levels. Here are a few ideas that could be considered for AeroWeek 2015:

  1. AIA could create an online committee of volunteers to prepare and coordinate #AeroWeek online. Volunteers should be recruited from the most active users from industry and media this year.
  2. #AeroWeek should be promoted online well ahead of the actual event. There should be a series of online activities scheduled throughout the week. For example, AIA could promote “Why AeroSpace matters to the economy?” Day to financial media, “The benefits of an career in AeroSpace” Day to high school students and science media (Pehaps using the #AskACurator example with Engineers?), or “The Impact of AeroSpace industry on day-to-day travel and commerce” Day to main stream media.
  3. AIA could launch the week with a “State of AeroSpace” broadcast and an online inventory of all the outreach initiatives by its members throughout the year. AeroWeek should not be the event itself, but rather a chance for the industry to shine the spotlight on what it does for the USA and the world during the other 51 weeks of the year.
  4. The committee should enroll, in advance, the support of the main aerospace businesses and industry media to support the event online. They should be asked to post articles around the theme “Why is AeroSpace important for the USA?” from corporate CEOs, government representatives, and major personalities (e.g. Harrison Ford and John Travolta?).

Do you have other feedback from this year’s AeroWeek? Do you have other ideas for AeroWeek 2015? Please leave your comments below.


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Civilian Helicopters: the most under served AeroSpace sector for online news and information? September 12, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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Civil Helicopter Aviation is booming. A recent study by Visiongain has determined that the value of the global civil helicopter market in 2014 will reach B$7.4 up from B$2 just six years ago. FlightGlobal Ascend predicts that the total in-service fleet will grow to over 28,000 helicopters by 2024. Yet, when it comes to online news and information for this sector, there is a big void on the internet.

CIVIL HELICOPTER COMMUNITY ABANDONED BY TRADITIONAL MEDIA?

Out of the three major Aerospace media publishers, AINOnline is the only one that offers a specific rotorcraft channel on its website. AviationWeek and FlightGlobal report helicopter news in their civil aviation section, mixed with all the other news. FlightGlobal used to have a dedicated website section and even a Twitter feed (@FG_Helicopters), but they abandoned it in 2013 even though they had over 3000 followers.
The main helicopter magazines have attempted to transition online but with mixed results. The statistics for the top sources of online news for this segment both in terms of unique visitors to their websites, as well as number of followers on Twitter, are very low. The best positioned in terms of followers is Rotor And Wing magazine with over 10,000 followers. [It turns out that Vertical magazine has many more fans on FaceBook] HeliHubIt is interesting to note the success of HeliHub.com, a pure online news site from the UK, run by Jeremy Parkin out of his home with the collaboration of a network of #AvGeeks from around the world. The site has quickly signed up over 5000 followers and boasts the best daily average of unique visitor of all the online sources. But if you compare the top three helicopter news sites on Twitter, you realize that they overlap significantly, accounting for less than 15,000 unique followers.

HeliReportTopNews[Click to Enlarge]

TOO FEW HELICOPTER PROFESSIONAL ONLINE?

Critics in media organizations might say that there is not much of an audience for helicopter news online. First of all, I proved that there was a need for helicopter online news with the stunt I pulled during HeliExpo 2010. Second, the online audience can be found when you look at the website traffic and twitter followers of the major Helicopter manufacturers. The top three companies account for a total of 55,000 unique followers on Twitter. As the comparison below shows, over 21000 of Airbus Helicopters’s followers do not get either Rotor and Wing nor Vertical Magazine’s twitter feeds.

HeliReportReaders[Click to Enlarge]

The people of the industry are online, but they are going straight to the manufacturers to get information and news.

NO LEADERSHIP FROM HELICOPTER ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL (HAI)?

I think that leadership is gravely lacking when it comes to improve the civil helicopter industry using the web. Unfortunately, the main industry association (HAI), organizer of the largest helicopter event in the world (HeliExpo is attended by 20,000 visitors), continues to lack motivation, direction, and expertise in this area. Their own online presence is amateurish compared to other aerospace association (e.g. @NBAA) resulting in dismal online statistics (they have three different twitter handles reaching just 3000 unique followers combined).

HAI owes it to the industry to get its house in order and become a modern association. Beyond leading by example, HAI should also do three things immediately:

  1. Create an industry hashtag, as THERE IS NONE RIGH NOW!!!! (Here is why this is important). Once it is created, promote the hashtag with news organization and companies to create a real “channel” online.
  2. Create an Online Industry sub-committee to create and promote best online practices, gather requirements, and propose solutions.
  3. Inventory and promote the various source of news and information online and offer easy access to it for members of the industry (e.g. link page, twitter list, etc…)

I would love to hear your opinion on this subject, as well as suggestions for other actions that could be taken. Feel free to leave your comments below or contact me directly.



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Over 15,000 followers in 10 months – AirLiveNet fills up the Commercial Aviation Breaking News gap September 4, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, Social Media, Twitter.
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Hot vs Cold NewsI have been saying for several years that the way our industry shares news online is antiquated compared to the mainstream media and the specialized news of other industries. After decades of printing “cold news” on a weekly and monthly basis, the main AeroSpace and Defense media organizations have yet to fully adapt to the online world of “hot news”. Although organizations such as AviationWeek have made great strides in trying to report industry news as it happens, it is mostly left to the personal initiative of their journalists to write up and post breaking news online. Unfortunately, such task is not their top priority and often if an incident does not happen during normal business hours it does not get reported until much later or not at all.

Yet, most general media from CNN, to BBC News, to local News will cover any airline or airports incidents or breaking news immediately. Unfortunately, the stories often end up in the hands of unqualified journalist with disastrous consequences when it comes to accuracy or relevancy. Without the counter balance of the specialized media reporting accurate/corrected information immediately, it opens up a gap in breaking news coverage, particularly in the domain commercial aviation.

AirLiveNet, the online source for commercial aviation breaking news

@AirLiveNet started to pick up a following during the #MH370 events, and maintained its presence through the succession of major commercial aviation news of the last few months (#MH17, #AH5017, #Bardarbunga). The focus, timeliness and accuracy of AirLiveNet tweets is definitely its competitive advantage. They only report on commercial aviation “hot news” especially incidents; no distractions, no fillers, no cold news. They are usually the first to report a flight emergency, route diversion, airport incident, or squawking anomaly. They usually back it up with accurate flight radar data, correct airplane pictures, and often photos and videos from the scene. How successful have they been in the 10 months since their launch? They now have over 15,600 followers. That is over 3000 more followers than @AINonline!

@AirLiveNet

So who is behind this success and what are their plans?

I tracked down and interviewed the site owner to find out more. “Seb” is a self declared #AvGeek who resides in Paris, France. He launched the site at the end of last year to “fill the gap” in commercial aviation news. Seb said: “I thought that with tools like flightradar24 and other sophisticated internet search engines, individuals with even limited knowledge of the commercial aviation business could probably do a decent job in providing breaking news information online. I felt that we could do it more accurately than the general media, and more quickly than the specialized aviation media.” He excitedly retells the story of the coverage of the Air Algeria #AH5017 crash in August. They were the first ones to report the actual flight number and last known flight path of the airplane. They continued the coverage minute-by-minute, and when a french television station had the first video of the crash site, relayed from a Mali Army briefing, they were the first ones to put it out on twitter.

Seb started AirLiveNet as a “hobby” with a simple twitter feed and a blog page to store the referenced information he posted. He set up the right reporting in flightradar24 and other flight tracking sites, and built several “search robots” to alert him of any incident in real time. When asked about the breadth of coverage available on AirLiveNet, he explains: “I was quickly joined by other volunteers who offered to help curate the alerts and feed the site, providing us with a round-the-clock coverage of the industry.” AirLiveNet is now a network of about 5 volunteers spread out geographically. In addition, a number of local news organizations are sending them information directly. “A real indication of the service we provide is when last weekend, for example, a local Norwegian news outfit sent us the video of an emergency landing in Oslo right after it happened”, said Seb.

AirLiveNet follows in the footsteps of @NYCAviation, another “grass root” aviation news site that started as a plane spotting publication focused on New York City in 2003. It now has over 38,000 followers. Although less focused on commercial aviation than AirLiveNet, NYCAviation (motto: “serving airborne amazingness from around the world”) frequently breaks aviation news stories ahead of any other outlets. The site is now an advertising-based commercial site that provides consulting and expert TV appearances to major news organizations. NYCAviation also sees its editorial content regularly referenced in, or syndicated out to traditional media outlets.

When asked about the future of AirLiveNet, Seb explains: “I would like to grow my network of volunteers to augment the geographic coverage we provide, particularly in North America. I do not have plans to turn AirLiveNet into a full commercial venture for the moment. The general banner ads currently on the site basically cover the small hosting and application license costs, but with 15,000 followers in such a short time, I am starting to wonder if we have unintentionally created a real business.”

AirLiveNet and NYCAviation are definitely teaching a lesson in “hot news” reporting for our industry. If the major aviation news organizations will not staff round-the-clock breaking news networks, they will need to syndicate this kind of content or face increasing competition for audience and recognition. Online breaking news coverage is an entirely new world and you cannot just “evolve” into it. As AirLiveNet is proving, you probably need to be born from it.



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After success of first edition, AviationWeek launches new TweetUp at MRO Europe August 26, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
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It is now undeniable that Twitter has finally gained ground in the Aerospace industry. Recent statistics show that all the major players, news organizations and government agencies have taken to the medium to increase communication velocity and strengthen collaboration. Ideas sharing on such an open forum, with the proper use of hashtags of course, can lead to connections, conversations, and collaborations with companies and indeed people you have never met or didn’t even know existed. But to many seasoned professionals, this feels a bit “disembodied” compared to the traditional way of doing business. That is where a TweetUp can help.

#MROTweetUpA tweetup is an organized, in-person gathering of people on Twitter. The word tweetup is an amalgamation of the words “tweet” and “meetup”. TweetUps have become an integral part of today’s social business climate. The usual reason for a tweetup is to gather people with the same interests to share ideas and make friends in person and strengthen personal networks.

In aerospace, TweetUps were pioneered most successfully by NASA who started them as early as 2009. These events provided guests with VIP access to NASA facilities and speakers with the goal of leveraging participants’ social networks to further the outreach requirements of NASA. They have held over 80 events, resulting in in a massive growth in @NASA followers, standing currently well over 7.3 Million!

The MRO sector of Aerospace was a pioneer in the use of Twitter, with #AVMRO one of the first specific topic established in the industry. AviationWeek has promoted the use of Twitter for a long time at its MRO events (See report from April 2009 – “Use of Twitter takes off at MRO Americas”) and it is a natural evolution for them to organize TweetUps around these gatherings.

The first event was held at the MRO Americas in April and was attended by 50 people. Honeywell presented “Four Tips To Boost Social Media Presence At A Trade Show” which was very well received. Based on this success, AviationWeek’s @MROTweetUp has created a new event for the MRO Europe show coming up in October in Spain (#MROE). Jean-Vincent Reymondon, Airbus Group’s social media manager (@AirbusGroup), will be the featured speaker at the event.

So if you are going to the show, or will be watching from afar, if you are an expert in social business, or a novice at Twitter, you ought to participate to this event, as it will definitely give you an insight as how MRO business will be conducted by the new generation or professionals.



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My Favorite Tweets from National Aviation Day 2014 August 20, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Social Media, Twitter.
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August 19th is National Aviation Day in the USA. Thank you “Captain Obvious” for telling us the significance of this day:

The National Aviation Day (August 19) is a United States national observation that celebrates the development of aviation. #AvDay ✈️

— Brooke Renea Eason (@TNkindaGirl) August 19, 2014

Wow, how insightful! In fact, it was established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) in 1935 on the occasion of Orville Wright’s birthday (He was 64 years old at the time and still alive). FDR was in fact the first sitting president that had an airplane as the Washington Post mentioned in their #AvDay post.

President Eisenhower had a pretty sick plane. The time pre-Air Force One: http://t.co/fGdhM5eeol

Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 19, 2014

As the day unfolded on Twitter, I felt very proud of being part of this industry. Thousands of people took to the medium to celebrate their love of aviation by posting inspiring quotes, memories and pictures. Here are some of my favorites.

@NYCAviation was one of the most active accounts all day and posted the best quote:

avday quote

And the love for Aviation from #AvGeeks kept coming all day long with some great original quotes.

#AvDay aviation to me means freedom, great views, & indulgence in the most technical of pursuits. I'm a gearhead & it's right up my alley.

Slav Inger (@slavinger) August 19, 2014

My love for #aviation started as a little kid gazing up at the sky every time an airplane flew over, happy! #avday

Adam Salyer (@AdamSalyer) August 19, 2014

Aviation is proof that given the knowledge and passion, we can build beautiful machines capable of defying gravity and our orbit #AvDay

Cooper Harrison (@Cooper_Harrison) August 19, 2014

You can go anywhere in the world in hours while hurtling thru the sky at 500 mph. Think about that and tell me aviation isn’t awesome. #AvDay

Jordan Boddie (@Runway1R) August 19, 2014

Aviation is an incredible career with incredible people, doing incredible things in incredible places. #avday

John Walton (@thatjohn) August 19, 2014

Many organizations joined the celebration. Most of the US Aviation Museums posted, joined by many aviation companies, and several branches of government.

For #NationalAviationDay, we give you #uscg flying dinosaur Senior Chief Peter MacDougall http://t.co/nubijBaDGr

USCG (Official) (@USCG) August 19, 2014

Flying is a dream we're proud to have played a part in making a reality. Happy #AviationDay! #avgeek http://t.co/05vZLQSTng

Bombardier Aerospace (@Bombardier_Aero) August 19, 2014

“If birds can glide for long periods of time, then…why can’t I?” – Orville Wright #NationalAviationDay

Sentient Jet (@SentientJet) August 19, 2014

We're so excited and we just can't hide it. Happy National Aviation Day to all our US followers!

Lufthansa (@lufthansa) August 19, 2014

Tour our virtual museum for aviation milestones from the past 100 years: http://t.co/xxcQ13hcEG #nationalaviationday

Honeywell Aerospace (@Honeywell_Aero) August 19, 2014

Happy #nationalaviationday! 100+ years of setting the #aviation bar wouldn't be possible w/o our dedicated employees.

Lockheed Martin (@LockheedMartin) August 19, 2014

My only disappointment was that the industry press did not really take advantage of this day for self-reflection or promotion. @ATWonline, @AINonline and @FlightGlobal did not even mention the day. A couple of the staff members from @AviationWeek did, but this post from their Social Media Director in response to Jon Ostrower of Wall Street Journal seems to reflect the general mood:

24-7-365 RT @jonostrower: RT @AvWeekRupa: What happens on National Aviation Day? // We write, think about aviation. Today is Groundhog Day.

Rupa Haria ✈ (@AvWeekRupa) August 19, 2014

Or perhaps, there is something more sinister at work, as mentioned in this Royal Aeronautical Society post:

"First rule of National Aviation Day – we don't talk about National Aviation Day."

Tim Robinson (@RAeSTimR) August 19, 2014

In any case, I hope your National Aviation Day was a great one. Did you see other posts or pictures that I should have mentioned in here? Please feel free to post links in the comments below.


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LABACE #FAIL: Three Reasons Aviation Exhibition Organizers Can No Longer Ignore Twitter August 14, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
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This week’s Latin America Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition has provided another poignant illustration of the de-facto use of Twitter in the aviation industry. As South America is one of the fastest growing markets for business aviation, all the major industry players and news outfits took to Twitter to share their news from and about the show: @AugustaWestland, @AVFuel, @Beechcraft, @Bombardier_Aero, @Cessna, @DallasAirmotive, @DassaultFalcon, @DuncanAviation, @GulfstreamAero, @Honeywell_Aero, @NBAA, @One_Bell (Bell Helicopters), @RockwellCollins, and @Turbomeca, as well as, @AINonline, @ASDNewsCom, @AviationToday, @FlightCorporate, and @FlightGlobal. In total, several hundred accounts tweeted about LABACE.

labaceBut what the organizers failed to do was to organize, feed and manage this Twitter channel. As a result, messages were posted in three different streams (#LABACE, #LABACE14, and #LABACE2014) or without any hashtags, making it impossible to isolate a channel for the show on Twitter. In addition, there was no direct voice from the organizers (even though they had a Twitter account back in 2011). Finally they failed to create buzz about this very important business aviation event before, during or after the show. It should not have been complicated for the organizers to figure out what to do, as their middle east (@MEBA) and european conterparts (@EBACE) are doing a great job with their respective shows.

THREE REASONS ORGANIZERS CAN NO LONGER IGNORE TWITTER:

  1. Exhibitors, visitors and the press are tweeting about your show: As Farnborough has shown, aviation companies are now using Twitter as a main stream communication tool. It is no longer possible to think that Twitter will not be used at your show. This is why it it important to do two things: 1) establish a Twitter account for the show, and 2) create a hashtag for the event. The hashtag will allow you to establish a “channel” on Twitter which will be easy for everyone to use and follow. When choosing a hashtag, make sure it is not too long and is not already used for something else. Also, it is not necessary to incorporate the year into the hashtag as Twitter archives can easily be filtered by date. With the Twitter account, start interacting with the exhibitors early and promote the hashtag with them, the press and on the event website. Also, don’t forget to submit it to this hashtag event list page.
  2. Not everyone can be physically at the show: Your target audience is much larger than the relatively few that will be able to travel to the event. Remote users will leverage the power of Twitter to follow the show and in turn help their case for traveling to the next one, or at least help with its promotion in the industry. Twitter is like an infinite mailing list and you never know who might be interested in your event. But with Twitter, there is a better chance they will find out about you.
  3. You must manage your own buzz: Professionals following you or our hashtag on Twitter should feel that they are missing out by not being at the show. This is how you create buzz. Start by posting information early (e.g. registration volumes, major exhibitor participation, press coverage). During the show, post pictures, video recaps and other “behind the scenes” information that would not be found elsewhere. After the show, thank the visitors and exhibitors, recap how great the show was, and prepare for the next event.

This work does not need to be intensive or costly, but is no longer optional. If show organizers cannot do it themselves, they can certainly hire a contractor on a temporary basis to help them with their online/twitter presence. (Full disclosure: This is a service I provide). I look forward to seeing more use of Twitter and innovative online marketings around the virtual side of the physical aviation events.

Have you seen good examples of aviation show organizers user Twitter or failing to do so? Please start a discussion below with your comments.



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No HASHTAGs in your #Aerospace tweets? Three Reasons to Reconsider August 13, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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As the statistics for the recent Farnborough air show demonstrated, the aerospace industry is finally warming up to direct online communication using Twitter. But as companies activate their accounts, many don’t seem to bother learning how to use this tool effectively. In particular, I am shocked at how many professionals misuse or simply don’t use hashtags in their tweets.

HashtagWhat is a “hashtag” anyway? Well beyond its technical definition, or this great guide for beginners, hashtags are a way for your tweets to reach people that do not necessarily follow you. This is particularly important for small companies or any aerospace company just starting on Twitter. At the beginning, no one knows your company is one of the over 230 millions accounts on Twitter. The chances that people you want to talk to follow you are very slim. Hashtag are a way to “tag” your tweets with a particular topic so that people interested in these topics will see your posts.

THREE REASONS TO USE HASHTAGS IN AEROSPACE

  1. TRADE SHOWS: Most of the aerospace events will select a hashtag to facilitate online communication. For example, Farnborough used #FIA14, and the upcoming MRO Europe show will use #MROE. You can find a list of all the major aerospace event hashtags on this dedicated page. If you want to participate in the conversation and reach people that are interested in the show, you MUST include these hashtags in your posts. I was surprised to see major news and corporate organizations posting at a recent show WITHOUT the hashtag. I don’t know why they even bothered as what they posted was missed by the majority of people interested in the show.
  2. AREA OF EXPERTISE OR INTEREST: It is important to try to have at least one hashtag in every tweet you post. But the tags have to be relevant and meaningful. For example, the tag #AVMRO has been used consistently to identify posts related to aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul. You can find a list of the most common aerospace topical hashtags on this dedicated page. What if you have a topic for which there is no hashtag? Well, feel free to make one up. Search Twitter to make sure it is not already in use, and then start posting it consistently. You can add it to this list, and it will start to spread slowly. You can also use some “flavor” hashtags to punctuate your tweets. For example, #AVgeek or #FAIL are popular tags to put at the end of a tweet to indicate, respectively, a post that aviation lovers will dig or something that should not have happened. Finally, the tag #FF (for Follow Friday) appears every Friday to suggest accounts worth following. It is used with a list of accounts and usually a reason or topic for the recommendation.
  3. NEWS TOPICS: as opposed to the hashtags above that are more “permanent”, sometimes there will be news items or topics that are generating online conversations relevant for a few days or weeks. A recent example was the destruction of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft over Ukraine. Discussion around this subject, which reached way outside of the aerospace industry, was tagged with #MH17 after the aircraft call sign on that flight. If you have something to contribute to this conversation, you MUST use the hashtag to be heard.

In conclusion, please always use at least one hashtag when you post on Twitter. The only exception would be if you post something directly addressed at your followers, a specific user or a group of users. It is OK to replace words by hashtags to save characters, but it is NOT OK to overuse hashtags for no good reason.

Do you have questions or comments about the use of hashtags in aerospace or in general? Please feel free to start a discussion below.



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How to effectively add Blogs and Twitter to your existing Website August 7, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media, Twitter.
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2 comments

Several marketing executives from small to medium aerospace companies have recently asked me how to combine multiple internet communication channels most effectively. Most companies have an official “classic” and established website but find it difficult to integrate blogs and micro-blogs (Twitter) effectively with it. Most of them have simply added two “appendages” to their homepage: a blog section and a link to their Twitter account. Without coordination and planning, this inevitably creates a three-headed communication monster.

But it does not have to be. The way I see it, the three channels represent an information pyramid with Twitter at the top, blogs in the middle and websites at the bottom. Here is how each element fits in this model:

  • Website: This is your reference library. This is the “big bucket” of information about your business. It contains practical information (contact, eServices login, support, events) which will be the most accessed. It also contains reference information (solutions description, customer testimonials, press releases, documentation, white papers) that can be voluminous. Even though it will hopefully have a basic navigation and search feature, the website will still be too massive and intertwined to be useable directly by your curious/novice prospects.

    Take for example the Crane Aerospace website: they make a (very cool) tire pressure monitoring system called SmartStem. This system is both used in commercial and business aviation, is a landing gear system and a sensing system, and has a unique brand. A search for “Tire Pressure” on the site returns 50 hits. In these days of information overload, chances that someone will dial-up their homepage and start sifting to the many reference pages, navigation menus, and search results is very slim. Prospects will need a reason to get there and have a pre-existing functional interest. For example in this case, extended tire life and safety. That is why well tagged/keyworded reference pages will get visitors from the main search engines: Google “Tire pressure Business Aviation” and SmartStem pops up as top choice, but search for “Tire Life Extension Aviation” and the results get fuzzier.

    This means that today, it is more likely someone will type a query and then jump into the middle of your website rather than come through the home page. But competing for attention based on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more an art than a science. A good website should be organized like a good library (or Wikipedia). Start from any point and navigate through related information, subjects and keywords (even to external sources like a good article about your product). It should answer questions like: what are the advantages of the product, what are other people saying about it, and at what trade show can I see it?

    However, some prospects will still come to your home page to see “what is going on” with your company. They are not coming to “watch a commercial”, but rather find some thought leadership, strategic direction and news about your company. And these days, the best way to convey this information is through blogs.
  • Blogs: These brief “discussions” are no more than one or two pages (a dozen paragraphs MAXIMUM) and provide highlight of ideas or news events that are easy and fast to consume. To be successful, blogs should be educational and thought provoking rather than commercial. They should focus on quality rather than quantity (1 to 2 posts per month is more than enough). They should definitely contain links to reference information on your website, so if someone is interested they can “dig deeper” to, for example, a white paper or a customer testimonial. Blog entries should discuss all relevant subjects of interest in hope of positioning the company in the role of a trusted source of information and expertise. This means the blog should also discuss news that may not translate directly into a product sale, but rather in reader education. There should be plenty of external references and links to other sites to encourage “exploration”.

    To increase exposure, blog titles and short summary should be posted on the website homepage. They should be appropriately tagged and keyworded as well as made available as an RSS feed so they can be integrated into other sites from news organizations and industry associations. Links to blog entries should also be posted on other forums such as LinkedIn discussion groups, FaceBook pages, or in comments to articles in news websites such as AviationWeek. Surprisingly, blogs can have a fairly long shelf live, especially when they are linked back from future entries. Keeping old blog posts up to date is a good practice. Most importantly, they should be created to solicit feedback and “engagement” with prospects. Comments and poll answers from potential prospects are excellent audience barometers. But how do you make sure your blogs are noticed? That is where Twitter comes in.
  • Twitter: Think of this as the “Headlines News” channel to your company and blog. Unlike blogs and websites, Twitter entries will only have a very brief life. People that follow you or a particular subject (like #aerospace), will rarely read an entry that is more than 36 to 48 hours old. This should be used as an “alert” system for your community that there is something they should pay attention to. It could be a new relevant blog post (from you or someone else), a new document on your website, or some related breaking news. Because of this, quality is much more important than quantity. Unless you are at an important event where many things are happening (e.g. Farnborough AirShow), companies do not need to post every day. I would say that a minimum of once or twice a week is a good measure. As with the blogs, don’t just post news about your company and never post blatant advertising (FAIL example:”With @PAirmotive you get a world leader in the manufacturing of fuel controls for general #aviation.”) Posting other relevant information such as partner or customer news is as important. Re-Tweeting other posts can also be an effective way to stay “interesting”. The bottom line is to stay in the forefront of your prospect’s mind with little gems of interest without become boring, irrelevant or, worst, annoying!

I often get push back from Marketing Executives that think adding Blog and Twitter communication to their strategy is “too much additional work”. Instead, I encourage them to think about transitioning or reassigning resources from “traditional” marketing (brochures, mailers, printed ads) to these “internet” marketing ideas. They should slowly transform from “Marketing Managers” to “Online Prospect Community Managers”. The ideas in this blog post can be implemented by dedicating as little as two/three work days a month to writing and publishing. And if they don’t feel up to it themselves, they can always outsource this activity as a service. (Full disclosure: that is one of the services I offer).

So, what has worked well for you in combining these three elements? What has not worked? Please leave your comments and suggestions here for further discussion.



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At Farnborough, Airbus, Boeing and 5 Other Large AeroSpace Companies Broadcasted Directly Online July 23, 2014

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

In a sign that information dissemination is changing rapidly in the Aerospace and Defense industry, Airbus, BAESYSTEMS, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Thales, and Saab set up there own web pages on the occasion of the Farnborough International Airshow. It is not the first time for this kind of communication strategy: Airbus, Boeing, and Raytheon did it in 2010. What is unique about it is that using Twitter in combination with the webpages, they have been able to draw online traffic to their site in volumes never seen before.

First, let’s look at what information was available on these “micro-sites”:

Company News/Features Videos Photos Other
Airbus 21 21 159 N/A
BAE SYSTEMS 13 1 32 Twitter Feed, Media Contact, Show Schedule, Stand Tour, Products on Display
Boeing 15 9 17 Presentations, Briefing Schedule, Biographies, Media Contacts
Lockheed Martin 8 0 16 Media Contacts, Briefing Schedule, Featured Programs
Raytheon 8 2 11 Infographics
Saab 4 15 71 Media Contacts, Twitter Feed, Presentations
Thales N/A N/A N/A Posted Articles, photos and videos directly on Twitter and published on flashboard (ThalesLive)

Out of the companies that created these micro-sites, Airbus went all out on videos and photos. As a result, they trended on the Twitter stats for most of the show. It was great that, along with Raytheon, they continued to cover the public part of the show to try to leverage enthusiasm for the industry from younger fans. I also liked BAESYSTEMS stand tour, Saab posting its presentations, and Raytheon’s infographics.

As I explained before, it is now possible to narrow the Twitter feeds to just the interest you might have (e.g. #FIA14) and get just the news you want. In the past businesses counted on the industry press to “relay” and aggregate their press releases to their readers. Now, Twitter can be the aggregate and companies are broadcasting directly. After all, they have the best information about themselves. And the industry is responding. In the table below you can see the growth in followers for the major A&D companies. In comparison, @AviationWeek has “only” 83,298 followers (@AINOnline 12,274 – @FlightGlobal 53,864).

Twitter Account Followers at 2009 Paris Air Show Followers at 2010 Farnborough Followers at 2014 Farnborough Tweets on #FIA14
Airplane Manufacturers
@Airbus N/A N/A 215,094 66
@AirbusGroupLive N/A N/A 18,976 107
@Boeing N/A N/A 173,757 26
@BoeingAirplanes 0 7,256 174,026 37
@Bombardier_aero 53 1,419 60,228 93
@EmbraerSA 3 1673 11,577 12
@Saab Not On Not On 5,549 79
Engine Manufacturers
@GEAviation Not On N/A 71,103 12
@PrattandWhitney 351 1,485 45,616 45
@RollsRoyce Not On Not On 20,083 13
@Snecma Not On Not On 4,530 2
Defense Companies
@BAESystemsplc 0 1,146 18,873 55
@LockheedMartin 268 4,339 110,637 24
@NorthropGrumman 680 3,139 57,942 0
@Raytheon 625 2,909 58,532 74
@ThalesGroup 76 728 20,437 50

This shift to Twitter, embraced long ago by other industry and finally gaining traction in Aerospace, will force industry news to change their coverage of shows like Farnborough and focus on delivering added value and not just be a “relay” for the news. It will be important for them to provide opinion pieces, mash-ups, and contrasts (e.g. Infographic on Airbus vs Boeing orders from FlightGlobal). For other Aerospace companies not yet using micro-sites, blogs and twitter to directly manage their corporate communication, it is time to seriously think about it.

What do you think of this communication strategy? Should these companies do something more or different? Are there other companies doing things worth mentioning here? Please comment below.



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