I was casually going through Facebook pages of Middle Eastern Airlines and to be honest my first reaction was rather skeptical. While it is not for me to advocate importance of social media in the region, Arab Spring has already shown its strength, it seems Middle Eastern carriers are just about warming up to it, or some are there just for the sake of being there.
First of all it is actually difficult to figure out if majority of these pages are really officially maintained or set up by employees and fans on volunteer basis. But those which are officially maintained look world apart.
Out of 15 Airline pages I went through on Facebook, only five have flight booking option i.e. Royal Jordanian, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air and Bahrain Air.
With more than 180,000 followers, Qatar Airways page looks not only a professional effort but a proficient one as well. With options like flight booking, twitter link, virtual tour and various consumer contests, it is indeed an active proposition.
Surprising it may seem however; best managed page in my view is that of Royal Jordanian. They seem most serious about social business. 80,000 plus fans might not sound too grand but considering Royal Jordanian’s standing in the region and local market, it is surely no mean feat. More so, list of followers is way more than global giants Emirates (50,000 plus likes)
and Etihad Airways (40,000 plus likes) which again speaks a lot.
Big Players should really work towards integrating social media into their websites. Emirates has a rather dormant page on Facebook, acting only as an info page, surprising for an airline which takes pride in number of industry firsts. Etihad Airways and Gulf Air, both despite having a flight booking option don’t have interactive pages.
No-frills carrier Air Arabia is more active in terms of using their page on Customer Service front, but at the moment has a modest 6500 plus followers list.
While Facebook is only one platform in the sphere of social media, above mentioned stats do not mean that Middle Eastern carriers are on a digital disconnect. All major players have official Twitter and You Tube presence. However, effectiveness of their presence would be an interesting
topic for another discussion.