As I write this, I’m flying over 35,000 feet in the air on one of the first flights on the newest route by Virgin America. On my way to Toronto, Canada, I felt compelled to write about this interesting promotion. But before I move any further, I must disclose something…my trip to Canada is as a result of me winning a prize through a Klout-Virgin America promotion and I will be attending the Virgin America launch party as a photographer on behalf of Klout. In no way was I required to write about this promotion and these words are my own.
Several days ago, Virgin America contacted the folks at Klout who help measure influence on Twitter. As part of the promotion, users were invited to submit their name to see if they would be chosen as a lucky recipient of a free trip along the Toronto route to or from San Francisco or Los Angeles. How were these names selected? They were based on the influence score assessed by Klout’s algorithm along with other factors. Once these winners were selected, they were notified and instructed on how they could redeem their ticket. They were also invited to attend the launch party celebrating this new route in Toronto on June 29.
So why is this newsworthy? It’s because Virgin America has decided to target influencers to help get the word out about their new route. They’ve decided to take an ordinary thing and make it into something extraordinary and truly beyond what you would expect from an airline, let alone a company. They have decided to take people who will tweet and use other forms of social media to talk about not only the contest, but also their experience on the Toronto route. Virgin America is probably known for their great service and probably definitely for their planes which almost makes it seem like its’ geek heaven for the person whose always online. From low-cost wi-fi to in-seat monitors that offers you a host of entertainment options, Virgin America has made their airlines more tech friendly.
And of course this has to fit in line with the influencers that they want on their Toronto flights. Those that are considered influencers on Twitter are perhaps more technology aware than the common user and also more prone to using social media readily to talk about their experience. So as part of this promotion, Virgin America has reportedly said they would give free wi-fi to its influencers and this is a good way especially for an airline to help continue the near real-time reporting of people’s experiences as it relates to their flights. One downside to this promotion is that you need to travel within a specific time period and there are few flights for people to use – in fact, this giveaway is more like a “last minute deal” where you must make plans quickly just to take advantage and even then there’s no guarantee you’ll get the flight or even the trip.
Regardless, it’s interesting to hear more about how one company is leveraging social media as a means to help promote their latest product. For Virgin America, it seems to be a norm for them, but probably for other businesses & airlines it might seem a bit unorthodox. But then again, Richard Branson’s airline is never one to conform to societal norms.Google+