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@UnitedAirlines Profile

28 July 2009

Having only surveyed low-cost carriers on Twitter thus far, I felt compelled to at least review one of their “legacy airline” counterparts. Of course, I had an inclination that they couldn’t compare, but I didn’t realize precisely how disparate their presence on Twitter could be. @UnitedAirlines, for example, has no link from their site, tweets an average of 1-2 times a day, & is all over the board when it comes to their tweets. From a sample of 100 consecutive tweets pulled between June 11 at 10 a.m. and July 24th at 6 p.m., I derived the following insights.

@UnitedAirlines Stats (as captured on July 24th)

Followers: 18,146

Following: 1,188

Follower/Following Ratio: 15.27

Posts: 276 (avg. 1-2 tweets a day; range 0-6)

Account Created: March 2009

Other Social Media Involvement: Facebook

@UnitedAirlines’ Twitter Page: Avatar, Background, Bio, Transparency, Website

Avatar: C

As a Twitter avatar, the United Airlines’ logo alone is stale & not an exciting reminder to fly. Alternatively, the image that currently resides on the handle’s Twitter background is (the United logo on the fuselage of their aircraft)! The handle may benefit from making the switch.

Background: B

The blue gradient background of the @UnitedAirlines Twitter page is reminiscent of a PowerPoint slide template circa 2002. Fortunately, the short message box in the upper right side of the background adds a personal touch and, to their credit, offers people an idea of what they might expect from following the handle – information (purportedly).

Bio: B/C

Although written without grace, @UnitedAirlines does one of the better jobs optimizing their bio for search. Keywords such as the brand name and “Star Alliance” may work in their favor in potential follower’s search queries. Nonetheless, the handle may benefit from stringing such a jarring list of keywords into a single phrase. Like, “United Airlines, a member of Star Alliance, is a global airline with hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, & Washington. Follow us for up-to-date information & twares.” Noticeably, the “official twitterer” was not included in the revised bio line. Reason being, it sounds dilettantish and can be conveyed by simply verifying the account.

Transparency: F

The handle has not made a single effort to humanize the Twitter handle: no call-outs to one or multiple people powering the handle in the background or bio; no use of initials to tag tweets (especially those written in the first-person); no place to go to find out more information. The handle may benefit from revealing the face(s)/name(s) behind @UnitedAirlines. People, hopefully, will respond accordingly; interacting with the handle more like a human …that makes mistakes.

Website: F

No link?! At the very least, the handle should link back to the airline homepage.

@UnitedAirlines’ Usage of Twitter Semantics: @Replies, DM Requests, #Hashtags, RTs

@Replies (59/100)

The number of @UnitedAirlines @replies is deceiving in this sample. After running a Twitter search for “UnitedAirlines”, I found that the number of people talking to @UnitedAirlines – asking questions ect. – far exceeded the number of @replies offered. Of course, the volume of @replies to, and @references of, @UnitedAirlines is intimidating, but the handle may benefit from simply responding publicly to the themes that are percolating. For starters, it could effectively curb the community from spreading wholly untrue information. Case in point, @UnitedAirlines chose to @reply only one handle (out of hundreds) that inquired whether or not twares earned mileage points. Woudn’t publicly offering that information be more helpful? At the very least, @UnitedAirlines could have made their one @reply an @reference.

DM Requests (1/100)

DMing is seemingly not part of the @UnitedAirlines Twitter strategy (what strategy?). They are not following the majority of people who follow them, so they have reduced the proclivity for people to DM them. The handle may benefit from relaxing their “do not follow” list. Note: The proportion right now would be o.k. if @UnitedAirlines stayed true to their initial proclamation that their feed is an information channel.

#Hastags (7/100)

The handle may benefit from making use of more specific hashtags. Instead of randomly using the #airlines and/or #travel hashtags, why not tag #twares to all of the tweets regarding twares? That way people can open a column or search for the hashtag and derive value from @UnitedAirlines’ presence on Twitter. Also worth noting, sometimes handles will not be afforded the opportunity to choose the hashtags (#UnitedBreaksGuitars) that are most popular in discussions about their brand. In this case, and others to come, the handle may benefit from acknowledging the conversations & make a single statement with the hashtag to demonstrate they are listening.

RTs (2/100)

The handle may benefit from holding off on RTs all together until they determine precisely what their business objective is for being on Twitter. RTs are a value add, and @UnitedAirlines needs to work on a few other areas first.


Lastly, the handle may benefit from settling on a voice that is consistent with the brand (talk more about consistency here). In brief, consistency plays into authenticity, which is paramount to the success of brands participating in the social web. In your opinion, does the tweet to the left sound like it could come from a gate agent or customer service employee at United Airlines? No. What about Southwest? Exactly.

Please note: The aforementioned Twitter page analysis is subjective and the semantic analysis is not comprehensive or generalizable. Both were simply meant to offer a glimpse into the handle’s presence on Twitter without the benefit of any information provided by a 3rd party Twitter Analytics tool.

*Key to Grades:

A Great! Wouldn’t change a thing.
B Good. Would change a couple of things.
C Nothing special. Change most of it.
D Pretty bad.
F Issue not addressed.

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