BirdSong, Twitter benchmarking for brands.
Digital Tomorrow Today, established in 2010 by Jamie Riddell, works with brands to future proof their marketing strategies. This week the company launches Birdsong, a bespoke new product which gives greater insight on how to optimize Twitter strategies in the competitive marketplace. This is in response to a growing need by marketers for more integrated qualitative and quantitative data on Twitter usage. Speaking on the launch, Jamie Riddell says, “It is clear that, with over 200 millions users worldwide Twitter is becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. However, the clients that we speak to are concerned about the lack of cohesive research on how, when and where their audiences are engaging with it. They are also very interested to know how their competitors are using the platform. We have developed birdsong to give brands the right information to create more powerful Twitter campaigns. We were particularly interested in understanding consumer behavior and usage, and how this could be used to fine tune direct marketing activity. There are lots of tools already available, which give separate pieces of the information puzzle, but putting them together is time consuming even before the analysis can begin. BirdSong provides an integrated source of information that is much quicker and easier to use.” Introducing Birdsong Birdsong combines API data with custom built reporting. It provides rapid insight into Twitter trends and behavior, which in turn can enable clients to keep their tactics relevant and fresh. For example, it can answer questions such as • • • • • • • • • When is the best time of day for my brand to tweet to existing customers? What is the best day of week for engagement? When are my competitors most active or inactive? How many of my followers are also following my competitors? How are my followers accessing Twitter (Mobile, Desktop, Television) What software are my followers using? (tweetdeck, seesmic, hootsuite) What software are my competitors using? Are my competitors tracking their links Do my followers click on my biography link?

And much more… Reports can be provided as frequently as clients require. Digital Tomorrow Today can also provide ongoing consultation on how to optimize campaigns as part of the brand’s wider marketing mix. Birdsong is the first of our proprietary solutions to help advertisers harness emerging channels. Further announcements will be made in the future. For more information contact: Jamie Riddell

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training


BirdSong Case Study: How did British Airways and Virgin Atlantic use Twitter to support their customers during heavy snow in December 2010?

December 2010 was a difficult time for travellers. Both London and New York Airports suffered major disruptions due to the snow, which left thousands of passengers stranded at airports. Digital Tomorrow Today used Birdsong to take an in depth look at how the two airlines used Twitter to communicate with their customers during this challenging period. We were interested to find out what strategies each brand had employed and what was the visible impact on their Twitter presence during and after the event.

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training


Background December 2010 was a difficult time for travellers. Both London and New York suffered major disruptions due to the snow, which left thousands of passengers stranded at airports. Using BirdSong, we researched the tweets from both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to understand how they used Twitter to communicate with their customers during the disruption. Methodology Three Twitter accounts were reviewed, all of which were active during this period: • • • (North America)

The following elements were analysed in this report: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Frequency of Tweets Day of Week Daypart Profile of Tweets Message Content Consistency of message Identification of Support Giver Follower Trends
th th

The data period for this analysis was the 16 December and 24 December 2010. The date range covers the immediate run up to, during and after the snow disruption. The days of th th st greatest disruption were the 19 , 20 and 21 December.

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training

1. Frequency of Tweets The graph below shows the volume of tweets by brand by day. The data from the two British Airways accounts have been combined. During December 2010, British Airways was typically tweeting on average 9 times per day but th on the 20 and 21st of December, they increased the volume to just over 50 tweets per day st (a 5.5 fold increase). After the 21 December, tweet volumes fell back to their original levels. Virgin Atlantic looked to be quicker in response to the disruption, with greater tweet volumes th starting on the 19 and rising to a peak of 460 tweets on the 21st December (a 38 fold increase). Prior to this, their typical tweet volume during December was around 12 per day.

2. Day of Week Analysis Only the british_airways account specifies its hours of tweeting in its biography.

Both brands, across the three accounts have historically not tweeted during weekends th/ despite having busy weekend flight schedules. However, on the weekend of the 18 19th December all three accounts were active. British Airways didn’t really fire up their activity until the Sunday, recording 29 tweets on that day. They moved into a higher gear on the Monday with over 50 tweets posted.

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training

The Virgin Atlantic team were quicker off the mark, posting 50 tweets on the Saturday, rising to 221 tweets on the Sunday and 460 tweets on Monday 21st, the highest number of tweets ever recorded on this account. After this, they managed a consistently greater presence than their competitor until the following weekend. The strategy of no weekend tweets has since resumed across all three accounts. 3. Day Part Review Before the disruption, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were predominantly tweeting during office hours. However, during the disruption both airlines were active (almost) around the clock. On all accounts we can see twitter replies being posted across the day and night.


Above are the day part profiles of tweets by the British Airways North America (left) and Global th st (right) accounts between 19 and 21 December. Note the emphasis on mainly office hours for North America and from 8 ‘til Midnight in the UK. The profile for Virgin Atlantic during the same period shows that the brand was active on Twitter across the 24-hour clock. It would appear that Virgin was responding to the needs of its customers rather than working to preestablished service hours.

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training

4. Profile of Tweets


For the purposes of this analysis we categorized tweets as either proactive or reactive. Proactive are defined as Tweets that were not replies to incoming requests or comments. These were typically status or promotional messages. Reactive are defined as Tweets that were made in direct response to an information request. During the monitored period, 92.5% of all BA Tweets and 93.9% of all Virgin Atlantic Tweets were responsive. The profiles were very similar.

British  Airways  vs  Virgin  Atlantic  Tweets

5. Message Content The majority of the tweets from British Airways over the reported period appeared to be promoting the url for the status website or the call centre number. This may be due to lack of allocated resource on the Twitter account.

The brand’s Twitter strategy seemed to focus on directing its customers back to the website or telephone rather than dealing directly with their questions via this platform. However, we could see from the tweets that customers were struggling to get through on the telephone and that the call centres were handling unprecedented volumes of calls. It is possible that some customers were using Twitter because they couldn’t get through on the ‘phone.

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training


A  snapshot  of  BA  tweets  during  the  review  period


Virgin Atlantic was also promoting the flight status page and the call centre as a means for their passengers to get more information. However, we could also see more emphasis on the team trying to answer their customers’ questions. They were more likely to address customers by their first name, which was, in our view, admirable and more personable. They were quick to apologise for the problems their customers were experiencing.

A  snapshot  of  Virgin  Atlantic  tweets  during  the  review  period


Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training


Promotional Messages During this period, two promotional messages were tweeted from British Airways. One was a sale offer, the other a foodies guide to Buenos Aries th (on the 20 December, later deleted), posted between a number of status updates and apologies for the disruption. These were probably scheduled tweets but their messages appeared to jar with the obvious discomfort of passengers. British Airways however was quick to apologise. No promotional messages were seen from the Virgin Atlantic account.

7. Identification of Support Giver British Airways, whilst using CoTweet, did not opt to identify support staff. Virgin Atlantic was actively identifying the support person answering tweets. Whilst this was not on every tweet, we assume Virgin Atlantic had a key staff of ‘H, G & K’ on customer service. This identification was coupled with a more personal approach, attempting to address each reply with the person’s name.

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training

8. Follower Trends


At the end of October Virgin Atlantic had 18,339 followers compared to 67,738 for British Airways North America and 24,757 for British Airways Global. Between October and December Virgin Atlantic followers grew by 10%, @britishairways growing 7.7% and @ british_airways almost 10%. Heading into December, the growth rates were steady until the heavy snowfalls, with st disruption peaking on the 21 December. Literally overnight, the follower count for all airlines leaped, adding as many followers in a night, as they had gained in two months. Virgin Atlantic experienced by far the highest growth, its follower count leaping 11% overnight compared to 3% for both British Airways accounts. This leap can clearly be attributed to consumers turning to Twitter for news and support during the disruptions.

British_Airways  and  Virgin  Atlantic  Twitter  Account  Growth


Conclusions Whilst this is only a snapshot of both brands’ Twitter activity, we can see consumers were turning to Twitter for brand support during this bout of severe disruption. Both brands enjoyed an increase in Twitter followers but Virgin saw the greatest percentage rise. The new followers have not since unfollowed the airlines, which suggests that these events do present companies with the opportunity to increase their twitter base and gain loyalty. The Tweet clouds also points to the different strategies taken by the airlines. The key message from British Airways tweets was to check the flight status by telephone or visit the website. Virgin Atlantic seemed to be going for a more personal angle, trying to deal with responses on Twitter itself. Virgin Atlantic was also quicker to gear up its Twitter resource to cope with the demand for information. British Airways also ramped up its responses and presence but seemed less able to deal with direct questions from its customers.
Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training

Key Learning 1. In the event of serious disruption, connected consumers will increasingly turn to Twitter for information and support. Airlines need to be prepared for such events by allocating resource and training to ensure questions can be dealt with constructively. Where possible, brands should endeavor to have trained staff available to deal with these situations 24/7 or to be able to on backup staff at short notice. With a constant Twitter stream, an hour can seem like a long time for a frustrated customer. 2. Consumers looking to connect on Twitter may be doing so because the telephone lines are busy or the website does not offer the correct information. They may also be connecting through Twitter for greater perceived immediacy of information or personal reassurance. Directing these consumers back to a telephone number or website will defeat the purpose of connection. Delivering helpful and personal responses in the customer’s chosen platform will help build brand loyalty. 3. In such an event, brands should check that they don’t have any promotional messages scheduled. Whilst these can be apologized for, and later deleted, they may jar with the frustrated or inconvenienced customer. 4. Wherever possible, connect with the customers on a personal level. In most cases the brand tweeter will know the customers, using them will add greater connection and empathy. 5. Twitter is viral. Bad service will be retweeted more quickly and more widely than good service. The Bigger Picture A BirdSong report such as this can only take into consideration what is seen in the public eye. It cannot review private direct messages, nor does it have access to call logs and or communications policies during this time. Working with brands directly, BirdSong can help identify an important part of the picture which in turn will help further define and improve a brands’ twitter presence as part of the wider marketing mix. Future versions of BirdSong will include additional data such as ‘Missed Calls’ – identifying the number of tweets brands did not respond to. It will also examine day and day part behavior of brand followers and Twitter software being used. Contact Details @jamieriddell @digitomorrow

Future Proofing Brands through Insight, Strategy & Training

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