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Marketing

Published March 14th 2012

How Social Media is Putting Bums On Seats

Clever marketing professionals are discovering more unique ways to maximize the enormous potential of social media.

Increasingly, marketing departments around the world are finding ways to mesh the world of online social networks and real life, as the line between the two steadily disintegrates.

The latest trend companies are exploring involves the ability for clients and patrons to use their social networks to select who they would like to sit next to on flights, at the theater, or even at sporting events.

Airlines have recently begun to pick up on this new-found capability of social media.

Last year, Malaysia Airlines became the first company to introduce the feature of social media-based seat selection.

Travelers allow the airline access to their social media profile, which enables the company to include it in a pool of other travelers who are looking for a compatible traveler to sit next to during the flight.

Other airlines quickly took notice.  This month, on a trial basis, Dutch airline KLM will allow customers to submit their facebook or linkedin profiles to facilitate “matches” between travelers.

However, there are pitfalls, as people have expressed concerns regarding the service.

Some people prefer to be quiet, and maybe sleep on a flight.  If you’re the member of an up and coming band seated next to a record label executive, the executive may not want the pleasure of you making his ears bleed.

Additionally, people of a more sensitive disposition have had serious reservations regarding privacy issues, stalking and potential unwanted harassment.

These types of seating programs are still evolving, so for now they may be more suited to backpackers, business people and more outgoing travelers.

Outside of the airline industry, social media seating is also developing along another novel route.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has given their patrons a progressive and accommodating option called “tweet seats.”

As orchestras and theaters have struggled for years with their policies regarding smart phone use, the CSO made the decision to dedicate 25 of their seats to patrons who wish to tweet during the performance.

The tweeting patrons are given a hashtag for the performance and can follow it live, as they are provided real time insights from the associate conductor backstage.

The tweeting patrons can reply, and an organic conversation unfolds.  Of course theater and opera patrons can be quite old-fashioned, so the tweeting craze isn’t likely to overrun your local bastion of culture anytime soon.

Both of these ventures into social media seating are demonstrating the possibilities of social media integration for travel and entertainment, and it’s an area well worth keeping an eye out in.

Social media savvy companies will pick up on this innovative tool and seize the opportunity to implement social media integration in more aspects of customers’ lives.

Think of box seats, nose bleed seats, floor seats, first row seats and the chances to enhance the customer experience grow astronomically.

Sporting events, comedy shows, concerts, cruise dining, cruise ship shore excursions, tour groups: they all immediately become fertile ground to sow the seeds of social media integration.

Which companies will reap the biggest harvests?

Thanks to Adam Miezio, Brand Manager for Private Jets Charter, leader in private jet charters for his contributions to this post.

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