Airbus A380 and the failed use of social meda

Recently the Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airliner, visited Edinburgh with a superb approach and go manoeuvre which was something to behold. It also visited Prestwick and the Dublin air show.

To publicise the event they had a Twitter account, obviously to keep people informed, attract more people and build a media buzz around the event. While the event was rather well attended the potential of their social media experiment was wasted, losing the company a great deal of free advertising and not helping those who were following the account, keen to see the plane.

This is a prime example of a company failing to remember the prime reasons for having their social media presence and for understanding exactly what is needed to make it work for them and their followers.

Airbus missed out on two important areas, timely communication and engagement, missing these meant that the Twitter account was wasted when it could have been so much more for those at the event, those following the plane, and the company themselves.


First let’s walk through my experience with the Twitter account and the fly past, then I’ll look at what they could have done to make it all work much, much better for them.

I found out about the A380 through…ermmm…I can’t actually remember, perhaps it was a website and I re-tweeted it, but I do remember tweeting the fact that the A380 was coming to Edinburgh, and a day or two later the official A380 Twitter account was following me. I returned the favour and began reading.

Information was sparse, and it merely told me that it was coming to Edinburgh and then onto Prestwick, I even had to find the date and time elsewhere on the Internet. When I was walking towards the location by the airport where I was going to watch the approach and go, the location I found with Google Maps, I checked the Twitter account, last update fifteen hours ago.

The plane flew over and disappeared, people left, and a few minutes later the plane appeared again and we realised that it was actually just doing a fly past before the approach and go, lucky that we stayed back.

Afterwards, on the news that afternoon, we found out that it flew to Prestwick for the same procedure and then onto the Dublin Air show.

So to recap, the Airbus A380 Twitter account followed me after I knew about the Airbus flying visit, and told me nothing that I needed or wanted to know. There was no information about when, where or preparations on the day. A completely missed opportunity.

So what could have been done? Well it’s simple really, you have to build interest and hype while supplying information that couldn’t be found elsewhere, information that your target audience would be interested in.

First though, here are a couple of things up front.

  • Use multiple hash tags on Twitter, one for the location of each fly-by and the other for the plane itself
  • Create Flickr and YouTube groups for everyone who is taking photos and video of the flights to upload to – one for each location
  • Create a website to track the official updates, the hash tag updates (minus the official ones) and the Flickr/YouTube accounts
  • Join a GPS tracking site and keep posting regular updates so that everyone could follow the flight live
  • When Tweeting try and post photos, videos and audio whenever possible, involve the people behind the scenes as much as possible

Then here’s what they should have concentrated on for the flights:

  • Background of the plane itself with photos, videos and sound bites from those who made it
  • Follow the planning process of the flights from start to finish covering everything from the plane readiness to the pilots, flight approval, deciding the airports to fly over, etc.
  • Particularly focus on the air show and what goes into the planning of that event, how the team decide the manoeuvres to carry out
  • The plane preparations itself, from the livery chosen to the crew on board, even what the arrangements are for during the flight
  • Follow the crew from the night before the flight, building the tension to the arrival at the plane and the pre-flight checks and take off
  • Live from the flight, with updates on location and updates from the crew themselves, a walk through of the flight as well as letting people know what’s happening
  • Try to have official users at each location to add the ground experience from each location
  • Provide details of each location, where to go, how to get there, where to park safely, etc. The best locations to see the fly-by
  • Provide regular updates during the fly past of the locations for people heading there

Now those are just some of the things that could have been done for the event, and already you can see just how interesting the Twitter account on its own would have been, even without being at any of the events.

Twitter and indeed a wider group of Internet users would have gained something over everyone else, a unique insight into the behind the scenes from before the flight even took off, to the flight itself, hearing from the crew and the pilots as they prepared, took flight, and conducted the wonderful approach and go manoeuvre.

As it was it was wasted. No updated since fifteen hours prior to the flight. A great, worldwide marketing opportunity lost.

Luckily we came early enough to beat the parking, searched for the right spot beforehand and stayed around for the second fly past which became the approach and go while others left. I’ve included the photos below.

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