Report: Airlines Get A Lot Of Hate On Social Media, Especially The Big Ones

As often as we use social media to proclaim our likes and loves, just as often we air grievances to our friends and the world — including complaints about the companies we do business with. When it comes to talking about airlines on social media, a new report says it’s a negative arena, especially when it comes to the largest carriers.

According to an analysis of Tweets from 2014 into this spring by Crimson Hexagon, a social media analysis company, 47% of posts about five large U.S. airlines were negative, with positive comments only getting about 20% of the social media pie, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The rest of the posts got a “neutral” rating — like, “Hey, I just boarded a/an [X] flight to [Y] and thought I’d tell everyone I know.”

The report says that United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue have seen a 209% increase in mentions on Twitter since January 2012.

The two biggest airlines United and American — also had the highest rate of negative posts among the rest, with 56% of both carriers’ mentions on Twitter being rated negative.

In the social media age, companies have had to adjust their customer service methods to adapt to the changing times. Customers can now complain directly to companies’ Facebook or Twitter accounts, instead of being restricted to only emails, phone calls or handwritten letters.

“More consumers are taking to social media to discuss these airline brands, ask general and specific travel questions, and express their satisfaction — or more likely, their dissatisfaction — towards these brands,” said the “Analyzing Customer Relations in the Airline Industry” report.

While social media is supposed to make people feel more connected to the brands they’re encountering in real life, the report points to American as an example of a somewhat robotic social media personality.

“Twitter was designed to be a social platform where relatively informal conversation takes place, yet American Airlines has not adapted its customer service methods to fit this social setting,” the report said. “The company’s replies to customers are very formal and do not come off as personal.”

JetBlue uses less formal responses, the report says, and it ended up with the highest rate of positive comments, at about one-third of the total.

The lesson to be learned here, the report indicates? Acting natural when communicating with the customer, because no one likes to feel like they’re talking to a robot instead of a real live person at a keyboard.

Larger airlines get social media hate [Chicago Tribune]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.