University of Twente Student Theses


Flying Over Social Media Strategies: Exploring the current state of the field and analyzing the social media strategies of two German airlines

Schrader, J. (2014) Flying Over Social Media Strategies: Exploring the current state of the field and analyzing the social media strategies of two German airlines.

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Abstract:This thesis combines a systematic literature research, including 66 analyzed academic articles, regarding the prevalent approaches to social media strategies with the findings of case studies conducted with two German airlines, namely TUIfly and Germania, for the purpose of investigating their strategic social media usage. The main research question aims at defining and exploring the term social media strategy and, simultaneously, determining potential impacts of such strategies on the airlines’ social media operations. The research shows that the opinions vary about the exact definitions of a social media strategy. The developed classification is that a social media strategy equates to an elaborate but flexible plan of activities for optimally deploying social media tools in order to create an interactive network of customers that generates business value to the company. The majority of the authors of the reviewed literature, however, agree on the elements a social media strategy framework should comprise and focus on. These elements are resources, policies, goals, target audience, social media choice, action plan, and monitoring. This framework was integrated into the PDCA cycle of Deming and, thus, transformed into a process focused on continuous improvement. The prevalent frameworks identified in the literature research dominantly view social media as a channel to advertise and conduct market research. A rare focus on interaction and engagement on social media is visible in several frameworks, although their importance was indicated throughout the majority of reviewed sources. The case studies offer insights into the social media operations of the two airlines based on their specifications given in questionnaires and a four-week enduring observational study of their online activities. In these specific cases, a direct relationship between the success of the social media presence and the deployment of strategic concepts behind it was not found. Both airlines have a large audience on their Facebook platforms and regularly manage to attract the attention of their followers. Both airlines gained the highest response rates with interactive posts and questions targeted at the audience. Furthermore, a low variety of channels was observed in the studied cases, which leads to the assumption that the term social media strategy might only be a synonym for a Facebook or Twitter strategy. Both airlines were furthermore investigated to fail at completing the PDCA cycle and, thus, do not evaluate and adapt their social media operations as recommended. For evaluating the current social media strategies, a recommendation is provided for integrating the SMS7 framework by Effing (2013) into the PDCA cycle and adding the elements of listening and content, for their relevance was identified in the theoretical as well as in the practical part of this thesis. After all, the findings of this thesis suggest that the importance of deploying a social media strategy for achieving success on the online networks as outlined in the academic literature is questionable.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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