Iceland: A Social Media Marketing Success Story
It was just last week I found myself at the Vancouver Airport, checking in for a flight to Iceland. I was heading there to enjoy a short and sweet, 48-hour holiday, enroute to London for a conference. Now, I admit, I am an avid traveler, but even for me, Iceland seemed a wildly exotic locale. It wasn't somewhere that I had grown up dreaming of. It wasn't anywhere on my bucket list. But, as I have said many times before, I am incredibly influenced by marketing efforts. (As in, you play the right song in a commercial to make me feel emotional about your product? I cry. You have a sale going on? Doesn't matter if I need what you're selling--I'm in.) And Icelandair has done a fantastic job with their marketing efforts (and their affordable pricing), so there I found myself, riddled with excitement, off to the chilly country in search of adventure.
Now this was my first experience with this particular airline, and, as I mentioned, this country. I was so blown away by the incredible job they did with their marketing, I wanted to take a moment to give them much due credit. (The country is also spectacular, and I'm dying to go back, but more about that on my personal travel blog....)
Here are some of the things that Icelandair has done well.
Executing A Campaign Hashtag
Have you heard of #MyStopover? Well, it's the Icelandair hashtag that they have created to help market their new flight offering (which, if I had to guess, is likely a joint effort with the country to drive tourism). Icelandair has created flight segments that transport travellers from North America through to Europe, via Iceland, and with absolutely no penalty, travellers can opt to enjoy a stopover up to 7 nights in length in the country. For me, this is what ultimately drove me to my buying decision. The flights were the most affordable out there (at the time, anyway) and gave me the chance to tack on two days to my business trip and get to experience an entirely new country without going out of my way at all.
The airline encourages travellers to use the hashtag #MyStopover to document all of their snaps from their short trips there. They are then able to view all of this content and collect and re-use it for their own marketing efforts. Hello free advertising! (#thepowerofsocialmedia)
Getting Questions Answered
Our check-in agent made the unfortunate error of "asking" us if we had heard about the strike in Iceland. (I can just imagine the blank, concerned look she was met with on our faces.) We hadn't heard of anything like this... and were enroute to London for a conference, so were rather worried about what this could mean for us. When we asked for more details, the agent advised us that she didn't know anything and we could be stuck there. She then smiled and handed us our boarding passes and told us to head to security. Despite our best attempts to escalate, it was clear no one there had any information or was interested in getting any for us. So, I took to Twitter.
I tweeted directly at @IcelandAir to advise them of what had just happened and ask for some more information. Within 15 minutes, I had a response, addressing our concerns. (Luckily, they clarified that there was an imminent strike at Iceland Customs, but any delays would be a few hours, not a few days. Phew.)
Responding to the Negative Stuff Quickly
The other thing to note about the above example, was how quickly the brand responded to the negative posts I was putting out there. They didn't get defensive, they didn't ignore it; they addressed me directly and acknowledged my concerns, got my questions answered and did it all in a very timely manner. Before I boarded the plane, I had gone back and forth with them 4-5 times and the conversation ended with them wishing me a great trip and I felt excited again to be on my way to Iceland. Too many businesses are so afraid of negativity on social media they either stay off of it entirely (if this were the case and I got no answers, I would certainly have still posted about it, whether or not I was able to tag them) or ignore it (which would have aggravated me even further--not being able to get answers or acknowledgement any which way). I always remind my clients--negative comments will happen. Not every customer is going to love everything about you all the time. This is always the case, whether you're present on social media or not. What social media does, however, is give brands the opportunity to catch these complaints and resolve them quickly. Not only did I feel good about getting my answer, I am now writing about how amazing the brand is because of how well they handled it. They turned me from a disgruntled customer into an advocate.
In Aircraft Branding
Once you've bought the ticket and your on the plane, it doesn't stop there. Icelandair has carried their brand through consistently throughout your entire experience. Aircraft headrests are detailed with fun facts about the country, which you can also find as your inflight entertainment screensaver. And they're not just your average statistics, they're written to make you giggle. Blankets have embroidered notes on them that encourage you to cuddle up with them. Even the air crew are ultra friendly and interject some humour into their announcements. They've even extended this style of branding into the hotels they own (which I personally didn't experience). The best way to create a memorable brand is to ensure it's used consistently. And these guys have certainly accomplished that.
And it's not just Icelandair that's rocking modern marketing... it's the entire country.
The notable 'Iceland Wants To Be Your Friend' campaign has been used as a case study in a number of marketing blogs and has done an incredible job leveraging social media and tone to create a very memorable and unique brand. The country speaks in first person across all channels, and does an incredible job of inviting you to visit.
Even the KEF airport has jumped on this modern marketing bandwagon. When we arrived, we dragged our sleepy selves through the customs line ups and towards the baggage belt, enjoying the hilarious selfie-videos and Instagram snaps from other visitors and locals having way too much fun in the airport. The airport marketing team has developed a campaign encouraging travellers to take pictures and videos of themselves, and whatever they're getting up to at KEF, and tagging them with the hashtag #WhenInKEF for the chance to be featured in their marketing displays. (This is actually becoming more common in airports--Vancouver (YVR) has also done something similar, creating a large wall display of images travellers have taken and posted to social media.)
All I can say is, hat's off to you, Iceland. Not only did I adore your country and all the sights I was able to pack in in 48 hours time, I greatly admire your marketing. Other companies (and countries, for that matter) would do well to take note of these successes. For now, I'm off to post a few more of my fave pics on Instagram. (My personal trip hashtag: #48hrsinIceland)