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As we all know, social media success should never be benchmarked purely on the number of fans and followers that you have.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s not fun to sometimes line up a load of brands and judge them based on their popularity among consumers.

We’ve done it before with fashion retailers, and this time it’s the turn of travel companies and airlines.

It turns out that Dutch airline KLM is the most consistent brand across the board, coming first, second, third and fourth on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest respectively. It’s also the only travel company to feature in each top 10.

The results come from a report published by eDigitalResearch that evaluated the social media presence of travel brands between December 9 and 15 2013.

And here's a look in more detail at the Facebook, Twitter and G+ results...


KLM tops the Facebook chart with just over 4.5m fans, followed by Air France (2.8m) and Emirates (2.3m). The fact that airlines inhabit the top three spots is put down to their large international customer base.

The report also looks at engagement levels of these brands based in part on the ‘talking about’ data found on brand pages.

It found that, based solely on ‘talking about’ numbers, Emirates jumps to the top spot with KLM second and Air France third.

KLM’s success on Facebook is attributed in part to the fact that it responds to questions in the customer’s native language.

It also has a number of useful apps, such as the Flight Status app that allows users to track flights in real time.


American Airlines has managed to usurp KLM on the Twitter list with 684,000 followers compared to 669,000 for its rival. Delta rounds out an all-airline top three with 558,000 followers.

As with its Facebook page, KLM uses Twitter as a customer service tool and updates its header image with the expected response time throughout the day.

It also responds to customers in ten languages, meaning that the brand is accessible to customers across the globe.


Google+ allows users to either +1 or follow brands, but for this study eDigitalResearch focused on the latter as a measurement of popularity.

British Airways came top of the league with 2.4m followers, followed by Expedia (1.92m) and KLM (1.90m).

As we saw with retail brands, there is a huge difference between those brands at the top of the table compared to those at the bottom. This is a reflection of G+’s failure to properly capture the imagination of both brands and consumers.

British Airways maintains user interest by updating its page everyday with photographs and videos, however it’s not uncommon for major consumer brands to leave their G+ profile dormant for extended periods or totally ignore them altogether.

David Moth

Published 15 January, 2014 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1686 more posts from this author

Comments (1)


Michael Stellwag

We were concerned that Qatar Airways, one of the top 20 airlines worldwide by size, was not considered as part of your research. Qatar Airways has a presence on 14 different social media sites, and has a prominent airline industry standing on several platforms based on fans/following/subscribers:

Pinterest - #1 globally
Facebook - #4 globally
LinkedIn - #8 globally
Instagram - #9 globally
YouTube - #16 globally
Google+ - #21 globally
Twitter - #44 globally
In China, we're #2 on Sina Weibo among non-Chinese airlines.

Please contact socialmedia@qatarairways.com.qa the next time you are conducting your research. We will be happy to help you find the information you are looking for.

All the best. MS

almost 3 years ago

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