Since 2006, Hong Kong Airlines has been capturing market share with a network that today covers nearly 40 destinations across Asia Pacific and North America. With one of the youngest fleets in the world, the airline is continuously upgrading its aircraft, technology, and communications strategy.

Social media is key to that strategy, which is helping Hong Kong Airlines expand its global footprint further into North America. Using a social media suite designed in partnership with Hootsuite, the airline is able to perform industry research, analyse sentiment, deliver winning campaigns, and manage incident communications.


increase in positive brand sentiment


increase in Instagram followers


improvement in customer response time

What they did

In 2017, the airline had no social media strategy beyond brand awareness and push marketing. Today, Hong Kong Airlines is a social-first airline with a marketing strategy built on listening, community building, and proactive communications—all managed by a small in-house team focused on strengthening customer relationships and expanding reach on social.

Internally, there was a lack of understanding on the importance of social and how the platform can be used to engage with customers. There was no social strategy or program in place. Immediate success was to ensure that the brand adopts a proactive approach on social and continues to grow and identify opportunities for the business on social.

Photo of Dennis Owen
Dennis Owen Responsable général branding et médias sociaux Hong Kong Airlines

How they did it

How They Did It1

Hong Kong Airlines needed to design a strategy that could evolve with the business. To figure out where to start, the company did a gap analysis into its biggest challenges around communications on social media. Focusing on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, the company set out to create a strategy that would ensure customers receive timely and helpful replies to all inquiries on social media.

Building a winning strategy around social listening and customer care

Social listening enables brands to deliver exceptional customer experiences by closely monitoring relevant conversations and overall sentiment on social media. Hong Kong Airlines uses Talkwalker’s social listening solution to monitor positive and negative sentiment, social sentiment scores, and brand mentions in real time.

And because Talkwalker integrates with Hootsuite, the team is able to monitor conversations, assign them to the right team member, and respond directly to customers—all in a single platform.

Protecting the brand with
proactive incident management

The airline faced one of the first real-world tests of its new social-first communications strategy in 2018, when a ticketing system issue briefly caused travel websites to incorrectly offer round-trip business class tickets—for $600 a ticket.

Word got out fast, and in the brief time it took the airline to correct the issue, bargain-hunting customers snapped up tickets at the vastly reduced price.

“People were waiting for the brand to come out and say something,” says Dennis Owen, general manager of branding and social media. In close coordination with the airline’s commercial, legal, and government affairs, the communications team worked with senior management to reach a decision to honor the fare.

Hong Kong airlines announced the decision on its social media channels, and customers and news media lauded the company’s transparency and integrity.

“From understanding the conversations that were happening, we were able to make a quick decision for the business,” explains Owen. “Our customers began to see that Hong Kong Airlines was a digital savvy airline and this has definitely improved our brand positioning."

Building Brand Love

Building brand love with creative social campaigns

As it builds out its world-class social listening and customer care programs, Hong Kong Airlines continues to use social media for marketing, with campaigns that are as effective as they are entertaining.

One of the airline’s best performing creative initiatives was an April Fool’s campaign designed around the brand’s three brand pillars: truly Hong Kong, passion for service and delivering more.

Teasing customers with the promise of in-flight roasted duck, dim sum, and other Hong Kong delicacies, the campaign quickly racked up over 5,500 global mentions.

Learn more about the products helping Hong Kong Airlines succeed with social

The results

The social-first strategy at Hong Kong Airlines is already paying off for the brand. With streamlined customer service workflows, impressive campaign results, and a social media following that has doubled from the previous year, the company considers social media to be its most cost-effective marketing channel.

Social is also a primary channel for building brand awareness. With more than 70,000 brand mentions per year, the company is discussed in 190 online conversations per day. And with 1.2 million annual engagements on social, the airline continues to prove that the right platform and strategy can enable a small communications team to build and maintain positive brand sentiment at scale among a growing global audience.

Based on these successes, Hong Kong Airlines plans to integrate social media more deeply into the business. With an influencer marketing strategy, internal brand advocacy, and other exciting initiatives planned in the coming years, the sky’s the limit for this innovative airline.

As a next step, we’re looking to use social media for HR, sales, lead generation, internal brand advocacy, and social selling. Hootsuite is always providing us with advice, ideas, and solutions. The partnership helps us continuously achieve more with our strategy and product.

Photo of Dennis Owen
Dennis Owen Responsable général branding et médias sociaux Hong Kong Airlines

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