United is turning to savvy employees to bolster its image across social media platforms, enlisting flight attendants and baggage handlers to post pictures and commentary.
The Chicago Tribune unpacks what has become a growing trend for companies seeking a more authentic brand image. Of course United has a dedicated social media team; this goes beyond that.
Take Joe Lammerman for example. He’s a baggage handler at Chicago O’Hare but United noticed he was posting some beautiful shots on his account and people were eating them up. Now photography is part of his job description.
View this post on Instagram
Or take Love Fajota, a United flight attendant. She posts inspirational messages about her travels and amassed over 60,000 followers on Instagram.
United’s influencer recruitment does not only target frontline employees. Jaspreet Singh, a self-identified “aviation geek” who works behind the scenes on in-flight-entertainment, also posts pictures as part of his job.
“Even before I started at United, my feed was nothing but airplane photos.”
How does United determine which employees get picked? The Tribune reports:
“United considered the overall number of followers employees had on social networks like Instagram and Twitter, but also looked for people whose followers tended to be United employees, passengers or people in the aviation industry, said Maggie Schmerin, United’s managing director of social and digital media. The airline also wanted people whose posts were informative and in line with the company’s brand.”
Of course there is some risk–wild parties, contentious political or religious views, and other controversies that can detract from a company’s brand image–but United has not experienced this. And I tend to think if you know your boss is watching your Instagram account, it sort of regulates behavior…
I like the idea of encouraging employees to be social media influencers. That itself builds external and internal brand loyalty. In such a public-facing company, there is certainly some merit to notion that employee photos are more “authentic” as well. And frankly I just enjoy looking at these pictures!
top photo is me, not a paid influencer by any stretch of the imagination…