You may be surprised at the power of being an authentic ambassador in physical life. In this case, the social media waves from a whimsical chance encounter with a niche celebrity led to fascinating social media results, thousands of miles away, and built communities in beautiful and measurable ways. The happenstance meeting also is harbinger of a tremendous opportunity for Delta Airlines, surrounding @Deltalina. Read on for details between the lines.
Land Of Sky Blue Waters
Delta is Duluth’s airline by default. Though United and Allegiant Air also fly from our bejeweled Lake Superior outpost city, the vast majority of outbound DLH flight-options to pretty much everywhere are limited to Delta. Our relationship with Delta is love/hate, having survived their assumption of Northwest, protracted local union acrimony, Northwest’s abandoned Airbus base, and ugly migration to Delta’s previously weak online systems.
Delta’s done good work reinventing itself to be as sophisticated an online operator as Northwest was growing to be. Sure, I’ve had my tangles with @DeltaAssist but they’ve made good or better. Our bloggers have taken mixed notes critiquing Delta’s social media meanderings. In my job as CEO of aimClear, I have the fantastic privilege of traveling the world over. I’m a Delta Diamond, which is the top loyalty tier, and proud of it. Delta treats me really well.
Delta’s Inflight Safety Video
With about 2.7 million views, the safety video is a mini-cultural phenomenon, proving that brilliant social media homeruns can in-fact move in fanciful slow motion. It’s the best (or one of the best) airline safety videos ever. I’ve spied a number fellow passengers act out little scenes during the video, comment, smile, and make waggish comments. My game is to intentionally catch the eye of a nearby flight attendant whilst wagging my finger, sporting an impish grin. Just when the video’s MC says, “Smoking is not allowed,” I wag my finger. I’ve learned to wiggle in JUST the right spot!”
My 17-year-old daughter, who we fly with a lot, turned me on to clamping my imaginary cell phone shut, again JUST at the right time. LOL!
Recently in business class on DL17, Delta’s famous 10:55PM PT flight from LAX to SYD, the lead attendant caught me doing the synchronized wag. We both cracked up. She shared that she had actually met the safety video host. Her name was Kat, super nice, and I learned is an actual Delta attendant working ATL. “Cool,” I thought. After that I enjoyed the wag even more each time, knowing the woman is tangible, not a professional actress. Then, the world as I know it changed…
Last Friday, I was sitting in 2C on the 7:48PM ATL > SAV flight and (incredibly) I saw the woman from the safety video emphatically stride on to the plane. Though her hair was longer, I recognized the wingspan of her smile immediately. Apparently a passenger on the short hop, her identity was confirmed by the off-duty “Inflight Lead” Delta patch on her blue shirt pocket.
She whooshed by with her rollerboard but I leaned back to ask, “Are you the lady in the Delta Safety Video?” She quickly responded, “Yes, I am,” and did not stop. Hmmm. Did she sound cocky, I wondered? I dunno… Maybe I’m pretty much a troll, or what if she has an attitude? There was no way to tell. After our climb through 10,000 feet, I logged into my GoGo in-flight wireless account.
Because I’m thoroughly @aimClear, I tweeted about the sighting! Why not? I love this woman’s work, having appreciated the Delta video many times, shared it with others, laughed and even watched it on YouTube. My psychographic profile is one of Delta’s precise persona targets. To me, the safety video thingy rocks like the Rocky Horror Picture show, cultish, fun, in an insider’s sort of freakish way.
Let The Games Begin!
Long time acquaintance Matt McGee, Executive Editor Of Search Engine Land responded straightaway. An experienced business traveller himself, Matt knew exactly about whom I was talking. It’s a rare treat to connect directly with Matt, on a number of levels.
Another Duluth man I had not met, following @aimClear, chimed in, familiar with the Delta video lady. He even shared her Twitter handle, @Deltalina, which I had now known. Hmmm… I did a quick search and discovered this Michael guy is pretty deep. I followed him.
This was getting interesting. I navigated to @Deltalina’s Twitter profile. Wow… Katherine’s a real person and knows what she’s doing. Sure, we’re not talking about Billy Mays mass pop-icon status here, but there is clearly certain chemistry in the matrix of Katherine (the actual lead attendant) mashed up with quirky style in the video itself and her regular presence in the Delta flying ecosystem.
Since I’m the CEO of a company that currently advises Fortune 500 companies, I couldn’t help but ruminate on about a half dozen really intriguing strategies to leverage this real world pixie of a phenomenon, amplified potentially to mass media consciousness. Delta has a tiger by the tail and only minimally leverages it. Think about the acclaim the Old Spice guy‘s got and he’s not even real!
Three things are for sure as it is:
- It’s brilliant for Delta to use a real flight attendant in the video
- It’s fortuitous to have cast a young woman with such verve and composure in the role
- It’s reality show genius that, by nature of her steady gig, she regularly flies Delta. By design the video’s online social amplification is jigged to be viral by the reality of physical life. The best of social media mirrors actual, physical life. How cool is that?
I tweeted into action, all the while continuing the banter with my tweeps.
I asked the flight lead if @Deltalina might be willing stand for a picture with me. She was happy to broker the deal and, right before we landed, instructed me to wait until all the passengers deplaned. When Katherine came up I asked her if she would mind a picture. She said sure, we stepped out on the jetway and did the deed. The copilot also wanted a picture taken so we took turns.
While we were standing close for the picture, I told Katherine that I am a Delta Diamond, about the me and my daughter’s little dance, the LAX/SYD conversation, how cool was to meet her, etc… She was so gracious, thanked me for flying with Delta, and looked me right in the eye. This woman has the rock star intangible qualities we seek in social media ambassadors. Delta’s sitting on a social media gold mine they’ve barely tapped, because the superb social media often amplifies relationships that are marvelous and concrete.
@Deltalina and I shook hands, walked out the jetway together, and parted. I tweeted the picture and uploaded it to Facebook right away. The reaction was pretty much immediate, too.
My friend Dennis, bless his heart, pointed out that this mature CEO has not lost his touch.
@DeltaAssist even chimed in. That was a nice touch.
ROI, ROI, & More ROI
I noticed a tweet, from someone following aimClear I did not recognize. What attracted me was her infectious return of excitement at my meeting @Deltalina. I checked out her Twitter profile, which was in delicious code. “If I were a bell I’d be ringing!” is from the classic Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls,” which is one of my favorites. “Land of sky blue waters” was the name of a famous advertising music jingle for a quintessential St. Paul, Minnesota brewery long past. Jenny’s profile bait was cultural, intellectual, sweet, and layered.
It only took a minute to find her LinkedIn profile. Double OMG, back at you, lady! Look at that résumé. She lives in the Duluth area and holds a professional position similar to many of aimClear’s clients!
I followed her back and started a private conversion. The exchange flows down the left hand column and then the right.
One Real Friend Made… Priceless
Jennifer Sabetti was as physically far away from @Deltalina and I as could be. Still, we connected surrounding the event and our mutual interests. All of this played out using TweetDeck on my phone while I rode from the airport. I felt confident that Jenny could become a professional friend who matters.
Friendships appropriately forged in the heat of common interests, often have a head start on the depth chart.
I reached out on LinkedIn to connect with complete conviction.
…and to my pleasure she accepted.
Meanwhile, the chatter continued. Jim Boykin is a highly respected online marketer. I’m speaking with him at SearchExchange in Charlotte on Tuesday. It was just great to hang with Jim and flap about @Deltalina. I also took note to Jim’s friends who engaged.
The buzz-ebb kept going. My friend Damian, who aimClear worked with for years and rarely tweets at me, chirped in. Damian flies a lot and is an accomplished industrial video guy. Of course my meeting @Deltalina tweaked him. There were several more individuals who engaged.
Then, @Deltalina tweeted her 2 cents, gracious end to end, an affable and publicly unaffected ambassador for Delta and herself. Rock on, Katherine!
The power of being an authentic ambassador in physical life can lead to fascinating social media opportunities and cause exciting new relationships whilst reinforcing others. The random encounter I had with Katherine Lee, A.K.A. @Deltalina should signal a groovy opportunity for Delta Airlines to bring her already-branded role of inflight ambassador to the mainstream. The concept has already been proven. It’s time to for Delta’s social media agency to get more creative and claim the low hanging fruit grown. Are you listening, Delta? Who’s your agency?
As an aside, one year in the 90’s I had a fistful of Northwest Airlines vouchers, having written and recorded music for NWA’s inflight safety videos. It’s amazing how life works sometimes.
Marty is author of “Killer Facebook Ads” (Wiley/Sybex) & CEO of aimClear®, an online search & social marketing agency that has managed Facebook ad campaigns generating over a trillion impressions internationally. Client credits include Intel, MarthaStewart.com, Siemens, Second Life & other iconic global brands.
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