Fly the Branded Skies

Taking AAdvantage of Facebook

If you’re on Facebook, chances are you’ve seen your friends liking AAdvantage this week — that is, if you didn’t like it yourself. American is running a promotion in which everyone who likes the Facebook page of its frequent flier program will win between 100 and 100,000 miles.

Unsurprisingly, participation has been high. In a few days, the page has jumped from about 2,500 likes to 227,301. But American is basically buying fans, and that can get expensive. If we are to accept a

All this means it’s too early to call the program a resounding success, notwithstanding its early impressive numbers. AAdvantage has a whole bunch of fairly expensive new Facebook fans now; the question is what they’ll do with them. The challenge is that social media is a little like herding goldfish. People have very short attention spans. There’s nothing to stop them from unliking the page now that they have their miles, or removing its updates from their feeds, or simply ignoring it.

The number I’d really like to see is how many people opened AAdvantage accounts to take advantage (sorry) of the contest. I did; up until now, I’ve collected most of my miles through Delta SkyMiles and Aeroplan. Getting people to click “Like” on Facebook is one thing; getting them to sign up for a frequent flier program is another, probably much more valuable thing.

(And this, incidentally, is why it seems crazy to me that the URLs from the Facebook page to the AAdvantage enrollment page don’t seem to have any sort of token that would allow them to track how many people they’re driving to join. But that’s getting a little technical.)

In any event, clearly American is going big into social media. It should be fascinating to see how it does.


  • Shashank Nigam

    In your last point, you're actually right, I've verified that there is currently not direct, dynamic link between those signing up for AAdvantage , and those “Liking” the fanpage. So there's no tracking. There's manual dumping of data into an excel sheet daily though.

    And while AAdvantage has done a great job garnering new fans, I don't think they expected the promotion to do as well as it has. So I don't think they'd have set aside an “estimated” budget of over $600,000 from the outset. But as you put it, now it's up to the team to drive value from these fans.

    It may not just be about driving ticket sales, but may be focusing on the Exec Platinums in this group, and the “new sign-ups” to the program. It's about segmenting this huge mass, and treating them in specific groups, if not individually.

  • Fly the Branded Skies

    It seems like a challenge, though, because how do you segment on Facebook? Users can certainly self-identify by choosing which pages to become fans of, but it seems right now that the high-yield travelers on the AAdvantage page are lumped in with the rabble (like me.)

    I'm reluctant to stereotype Facebook users, since the demographics of Facebook grow more diverse by the day, but is it really the best channel to use to reach people at the platinum level of frequest flyer programs?

    All these things are leading me to wonder if Facebook is really a mass medium in a way — but that doesn't sound right, does it?