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Natalie Hotchkiss

MKTG 318
27 September 2017

Analysis of Boeing Social Media

I. Introduction
After acquiring Pacific Aero Products Co. in July of 1916, William Boeing set out to
transform the relatively new aerospace world. Boeing Airplane Co. has been a leader in
innovation in the aerospace industry, making jetliners and security systems for commercial,
military and space use. Their successful marketing strategies spanning the past century have
assisted in propelling Boeing forward.
Also dominating the market is European-based Airbus, which has served as the other half
of a duopoly with Boeing for a number of years. Now, however, new market threats are
exploding across the globe, including Canadian Bombardier, Brazilian Embraer, Japanese
Mitsubishi, Chinese COMAC and Russian Irkut (Zhang). Aside from COMAC and Irkut, all of
Boeing’s competitors also are utilizing popular Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms.
However, Boeing is by far the oldest company with a strong reputation and established online
presence.
In today’s digital age, Boeing has, unsurprisingly, taken full advantage of social media
available to them. Platforms utilized include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and
LinkedIn. And, like many major companies, Boeing has had a few missteps along the way in
regards to social media and public relations. Most notably, in 2010, 8-year old Harry Winson,
from Boulder, CO, sent Boeing a sketch of an airplane he made with firefighting capabilities. In
return, he received a form letter that stated;
Like many large companies, we do not accept unsolicited ideas. Experience
showed that most ideas had already been considered by our engineers and that
there can be unintended consequences to simply accepting these ideas. The time,
cost and risk involved in processing them, therefore, were not justified by the
benefits gained (Clifford).
Interestingly enough, Winsor’s father owned a company that uses crowdsourcing to build
advertising campaigns, so he pitched the dilemma to his blog and Twitter followers. People
responded enthusiastically about Boeing’s poor customer service. Ironically, Boeing had recently
began their Twitter account not long before the incident, at the time managed by Todd Blecher.
He utilized the new account to simply tweet, “We’re expert at airplanes but novices in social
media. We’re learning as we go” (Clifford). This response was well received by the supporters of
young Winsor, which in turn helped Boeing avoid a full-blown social media crisis.

II. Summary of Social Media Use and Purpose


It’s not clear who exactly manages Boeing’s social strategy, however as it is popular with
large companies and organizations, they most likely work with a creative or public relations
agency to plan and execute different social strategies and special campaigns. Internally, Boeing
likely employs teams of social media strategists to manage each platform and accounts.
Initially, however, Boeing didn’t see an exact benefit to social media. "We started out by
looking at everything everyone else was doing [on social media],” said Blecher about their early
social media beginnings. “The reality was we didn't know enough to get into spaces like
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and none of them were seen as the primary space for telling our
story" (Wilson). Now, however, Boeing has figured out how to utilize many different platforms
to create relationships, build credibility and tell their story.
The table below (Figure 1) shows the number of followers on each platform and how
frequently it is updated. This is relevant information because it highlights how Boeing uses each
platform differently for specific purposes. Because Boeing has its hands in the commercial,
military and outer space markets, it has several social accounts for each platform. For example,
on Twitter, accounts include The Boeing Company (@Boeing), Boeing Airplanes
(@BoeingAirplanes), Boeing Defense (@BoeingDefense), Boeing Stories (@BoeingStories) and
accounts for Beoing Europe, Beoing Middle East, Boeing France, Boeing Brasil and Boeing
Japan. Additional unverified accounts exist as well. For the purpose of this analysis, only the
main Boeing Company social media accounts will be examined.

Figure 1
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Instagram
# of 1,021,990 393,000 790,042 461,707 532,000
Followers/Likers/Subscribers
Frequency of Posts Somewhat Tweet 1-3 posts 1-4 videos 1-3 posts
inconsistent; posted each posted each
typically every 2 week. each week.
every few to 3 days. month.
days but can
go for as
long as one
week
between
posts.
Breakdown of social media followers and post frequency.

It seems that Boeing has the biggest reach on Facebook, with each post averaging likes
around two or three thousand. Facebook serves as their primary form of communication with the
public. Posting everything from industry and company updates to fun facts, images and videos,
Boeing’s Facebook account is engaging and does a fair job of bolstering excitement for the
brand. They do a fair job of acknowledging airline companies who buy and use their planes as
well, which shows the public good working relationships between the airplane manufacturer and
global airlines. Figure 1 shows Boeing’s extensive reach on Facebook.
As Twitter limits communication to 140 characters, Boeing uses it to post links, retweets
and quick news. Depending on current events, Boeing will use Twitter to post facts and figures.
For example, on September 13, 2017, Boeing used Twitter to post a quote from CEO, Dennis
Muilenburg, that stated, “Muilenburg: Base on 787 order backlog of ~ 700 airplanes and
continued demand, we confirm plan to go up in rate to 14 per month in 2019”. Because of how
easy it is to post information quickly on Twitter, Boeing can easily communicate with their
stakeholders as well as the general public.
LinkedIn is one of the most natural and important platforms for major companies. Beside
keeping the public updated with relevant company and industry updates, LinkedIn is a good
platform for recruiting new talent to the organization. Boeing’s main company page includes
relevant information about the company and employees, usually highlighting executives and
other high-level information. Furthermore, Boeing uses this platform to highlight open jobs,
career advice for graduates and other relevant career relevant information.
What’s the best way to showcase the power and awesomeness of an aircraft? Use video!
Since it’s creation in February of 2006, Boeing’s YouTube has reached 188,740,709 views and
nearly half a million subscribers. This channel is engaging and gives a more intimate view into
Boeing’s world and the people who work in it.
Finally, using captivating photo and video, Boeing’s Instagram account highlights the
power and beauty in their commercial and military aircrafts. Boeing does a good job here of
creating interesting visuals that everyone can find interesting, not just airplane fans or airlines.
Additionally, they use hashtags to connect with the greater community. For example, featuring
the original 747-100 from 1968, Boeing’s Instagram, Boeing used the hashtags #avgeek and
#instagramaviation. Each of these hashtags connect to over 1 million other tagged posts, which
allows Boeing to enter into the aviation fan base.

III. Use of each tool


LinkedIn – As mentioned above, Boeing’s LinkedIn account highlights company updates
and exciting job opportunities. Followers of the page can see all available jobs around the world,
including internship and entry level job opportunities. Because Boeing is so popular and well-
known, jobseekers are very likely to follow the page to stay current on the industry and
opportunities. This platform is much more professional than the others.
Twitter – All of Boeing’s Twitter accounts interact with each other through retweets and
quoting tweets, so even if the public is only following one account, they’re probably aware of the
others. The main @Boeing account integrates video content for an engaging experience. They
also highlight veterans through photos and videos. @Boeing also serves as a platform for
Muilenburg to communicate with the public, as he is regularly quoted on the account. Major
company news is also distributed through the Twitter account with the use of external links.
YouTube - Boeing’s use of YouTube provides rich information about the company, it’s
history and upcoming events. From videos about building satellites with self-defense capabilities
to short films highlighting Boeing’s global presence and history, this platform is highly
interactive and captures the attention of audiences of all ages. This is a great way to engage with
outside publics who might not traditionally be interested in the business side of Boeing. There is
something for everyone on Boeing’s YouTube channel.
Instagram – The most visual of platforms, Boeing’s Instagram showcases their commercial
and military planes through engaging photos and video. From UPS to El Al Israel Airlines to the
military, the audience gets to see the full scope of where and how Boeing’s products are used.
Videos of space crafts have also been featured recently.

IV. Assessment and Recommendation


Overall, Boeing’s social media strategy aligns with typical social media marketing best
practices. Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach states that, “Social media involves
earning permission to join in personal conversations with real people who don’t usually want to
be the target of advertising” (Baker, 72). Boeing certainly does not push their content on their
audiences. They seek out opportunities for engagement and approach their audiences
appropriately. One thing Boeing does a fantastic job of is highlighting real people who work for
them, which gives such a huge company a personal feel and makes it less intimidating.
Boeing’s biggest social media competitor is, unsurprisingly, Airbus. For the SWOT Analysis
below, Airbus is used as the major threat to Boeing because they both dominate the airplane
industry. Other smaller manufacturers do not have as much pull as Boeing and Airbus; therefore,
Airbus is the main competitor and threat for Boeing’s social media marketing.

Figure 2
Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
Facebook Engaging Much content Engage directly with Airbus has 400+
content; shares diversity, could public through more followers
stories and streamline mentions and and page
history content for highlighting followers
easier passengers
transitions;
make
campaigns
more apparent
LinkedIn Business- Doesn’t Feature programs for Airbus highlights
focused highlight recent exciting
content; good specific jobs, graduates/internships, international jobs
use of video especially to especially if and internships
and photo recent international for students and
graduates graduates
Instagram Exciting photo Extremely long Create “Faces of Airbus dominates
and video captions Boeing” account with 1.1 million
content to similar to “Faces of followers
engage Airbus”; add
audience additional hashtags
Twitter News outlet for Doesn’t Engage with @’s Airbus interacts
company; integrate much more frequently, with airlines and
offers real-time content especially airlines public more
information regarding featuring new planes frequently
employees
YouTube Incredible Some of their Create content for None
following; videos are younger generations
engaging made private
content
SWOT Analysis of Boeing’s social media platforms.

Recommendation 1: Create more engaging photo captions that stimulate audience


engagement. Boeing does a great job of explaining what each of their photos exactly are.
However they do not always stimulate conversation. A recent Airbus photo featured a plane
landing in a giant puddle of water, which is usually part of the testing protocol. The caption
simply read, “Caption this! #MondayMotivation #airbus #a321neo #airbuslovers #plane
#instaplane #avgeek @aviationgeek #showertime”. The post received over 220 comments and
40,689 likes. Boeing features long captions on Instagram, which isn’t horrible, but can make the
audience lose interest.
Recommendation 2: Interact with airlines on Twitter more. Airlines frequently highlight
new airplanes and the companies they work with. Boeing could interact with their customers
most on Twitter. Additionally, they rarely respond to audience tweets, so there is room to create
more dialog between the company and the public.
Recommendation 3: Highlight employees on separate Instagram page. Boeing does a
great job of showing their employees who make the company possible. However, they could take
a page from Airbus’s book and create a separate Instagram account that is 100% dedicated to
showcasing their workers. This can range from line workers to executives. This would really
show that Boeing cares about their employees and wants to showcase the amazing talent they are
lucky to have

V. References

Barker, Melissa S, et al. Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach. 2nd ed., Boston, MA,
Cengage Learning, 2017.

Clifford, Stephanie. “Boeing's Social-Media Lesson.” The New York Times, The New York
Times, 3 May 2010, mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/boeings-social-media-
lesson/?mcubz=3. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.

Wilson, B. (2010). Boeing: Social media drives website traffic, enhances brand. Aviation
Daily, 381(10), 6. Retrieved from
http://proxy.foley.gonzaga.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/73447438
5?accountid=1557

Zhang, Benjamin. “These 6 planes are trying to end Airbus and Boeing's dominance in the
skies.” Business Insider, 9 June 2016, www.businessinsider.com/airbus-a320-boeing-
737-new-challengers-2016-6/#boeing-737-max-series-2. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.