Lauren: You have a very interesting and successful story using blogging to engage with your customers and prospects. Can you tell me more about the objectives and strategy behind this initiative?
George: Airports have a large variety of target customers but we have focused our social efforts on B2B (with regards to airline relationships) but not yet B2C (Passengers who travel through our airport). So last year we started this initiative, which is unique in the airport business, of developing a blog in order to have a much more direct and interactive relationship with airlines. Our airline customers are all around the world but we are also targeting the headquarters of airlines not currently operating with us, as they are potential customers. Our blog was a result of trying to find a means where we could have the opportunity to be closer to our potential customers rather than just requesting a meeting or sending a newsletter. At the same time they can come back and ask for more information. So the blog has been very successful for that reason. We have 500 of our clients being part of it and there has been quite a lot of interaction on the interface. We have a 3 tier strategy for the information we provide on the blog: Information on Abu Dhabi city development, ADAC as a company, and ADAC as an airport facility. An airline does not come to an airport because they like the airport. They come because the market for the city is attractive. So given the dynamic development of Abu Dhabi, we felt it was important for them to know the different developments and events taking place. We work very closely with Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority to do this. For example, this year our blog is focusing on a very big conference we are hosting at the end of September called Routes, where 300 airlines and top executives for airports will meet to discuss route development. Abu Dhabi is the first city to hold this event twice.
* Check out the blog here *
Lauren: And how do you measure the success of your blog?
George: There are 3 ways that we measure the success of our blog:
1. The number and quality of subscribers to our blog – at this point we have all the major airlines that we want to open discussion with or are existing clients.
2. Interactivity and comments we receive on our posts referencing engagement from our readers.
3. Optimizing marketing spend. This is the most difficult to measure. Since last year when we launched the blog, we stopped all our other kind of advertizing, so we had a significant cost reduction in the way that we have been advertizing and communicating the Abu Dhabi proposition to this targeted group.
Lauren: So will social replace traditional marketing entirely?
George: We are very much for that. Our next steps, by the last quarter of this year, will be starting to introduce more social media to our communications strategy. Getting them interact with us through social can really help us get closer to our customers and understand them but at the same time improve our revenue by increasing sales. So you will see that both our social communications with B2B and, for the first time, our communication with B2C will be available from ADAC.
George's top tips:
1. Understand who you are developing blog content for
2. Measure interactivity on blog posts to get a better idea of how your blog is performing than purely relying on subscribes and views.
3. Don't be afraid to let social dominate your communication strategy