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LinkedIn is now the largest B2B Aerospace & Defense online social network October 6, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media.
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While attending a recent AIA meeting about Disruptive Information Technologies, I was not surprised that during the debate on Social Networking, much of the focus was spent on FaceBook. In the Special Report on the subject published by the eBusiness Steering Group (PDF), most recommendations focused on the security challenges of the public social networks, while admitting that they have a benefit for the industry. In particular I find the report’s second recommendation most interesting:

“It is recommended that the AIA consider establishing an industry social network service to support smaller companies in the supply chain with a secure social networking service. This service would enable sharing of appropriate knowledge that is not covered by individual company IPR, such as the registration of hazardous substances under REAC h. The group has not made specific recommendations on the uses of such a service because one of the benefits of social networking is that uses will emerge from the community itself, within the policies established above.”

I would imagine that any company that already provides such a “social network” would probably vie for the chance to be endorsed by AIA. Of all of those, Exostar is probably the most likely candidate. It is very secure in terms of authentication, encryption, hosting and transmission. It implements the data sharing standards of the Trans-global Secure Collaboration Program (TSCP) designed by a consortium of prominent Aerospace companies. And it is used every day by thousands of companies in business critical operations. With a claim of 70,000 companies registered, it seems like this network would be the best choice for sharing “sensitive” information between companies.

But what about more casual or ad-hoc collaboration? What about forums where colleagues can discuss a variety of non-proprietary topics or ask questions of their peers? What about networking in search of business development or career opportunities? Those requirements do not fit the Exostar model. And as I discussed in a previous post, neither does it fit FaceBook. So what should AIA consider?

Aviation Week (AWConnect), Aviation Now (Aviation Professionals Network (APN)) and Flight Global (AirSpace) all have industry communities designed for that very purpose.

  Name Members Forums Jobs
Aviation Week AWConnect N/A 10 27
Aviation Today Aviation Professionals Network 6890 236 2037
Flight Global AirSpace 7610 23 673

All three communities are offered as a free service with very similar functions. But when it comes to this kind of service, one should not overlook LinkedIn. Since its inception, this professional network has had tremendous growth and when it comes to Aerospace & Defense companies, the participation is unparalleled. Here are the stats:

  • Number of A&D companies with employees on LinkedIn: 9181
  • 72 % of the companies have less than 200 employees
  • 103 companies listed 616 jobs
  • Worldwide company distribution: North America 50%, European Community 27%, RoW 23%. Top 10 countries (in order): USA, UK, Canada, India, France, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain.
  • Although the total number of A&D users is not available, over 220,000 employees of the top 10 A&D companies are on LinkedIn:
  Nbr Employees on LinkedIn
Boeing 51080
Lockheed Martin 36574
Northrop Grumman 27213
Honeywell 26858
Raytheon 18929
General Dynamics 13838
EADS 12522
United Technology 11207
Thales 10247
  • Most of the job functions are represented:
Job Function Users
Engineer 138197
Sales/Marketing/Customer Service 58510
Project/Program Manager 53069
Analyst 37024
Pilot 25324
Executive 20758
Consultant 17219
Quality 14589
CEO/COO 8177
Mechanic 4226

So like it or not, LinkedIn is now the largest B2B A&D online community network, and AIA should consider that in its plan, no matter what they are. As for you, if you want to have ad-hoc collaboration (and not necessarily public mind you), if you want to discuss a variety of non-proprietary topics or ask questions of your peers, or if you want to network in search of business development or career opportunities, then LinkedIn is the place for you. You should take a moment to create or update your profile, sign-up for some of the 2000+ discussion groups, and check in on the site regularly.

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Top 10 A&D Magazines Online: Comparing the Numbers August 25, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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In my recent blog post entitled “MRO Americas and EBACE Online Coverage: Missed Opportunity for Exhibitors”, I stated the following:

I would want to see AIN’s news content
in FlightGlobal’s multi-format web platform
delivered to AviationWeek’s online audience.

This was a pretty strong statement that generated much discussion around the water coolers of numerous A&D publishing companies. Flight Global argued that they had a larger online audience and ended up posting their web traffic analysis (PDF) for all to see. AviationWeek sent out a press release about their Farnborough web traffic to show that they felt their presence was pretty successful. Flight Global responded in their editor’s blog. Many others commented to me privately via email. All of this interest prompted me to investigate further. My complete data spreadsheet is available for download (PDF).


Using the online BPA circulation reports, I selected the ten most distributed A&D magazines based on their December 2009 Qualified Total Circulation.

As I thought, AviationWeek has by far the largest audience of them all. But there is more than meets the eye. When looking at Qualified Paid Circulation and eliminating the Air Force Magazine which is provided as part of the association membership, the dominance of AviationWeek is undeniable. Quite an achievement since 100% of their circulation is paid versus 77% for Flight International. All the other magazines have less than 15% paid subscribers.


I then looked at the online presence for each company, analyzing the “public” side of each publisher. That is to say, I did not have access to data regarding web pages behind a password protected screen. I also included Twitter information. I gathered the information from websitegrader.com and twitter.grader.com data as well as Google Doubleclick Ad Planner estimates. What quickly emerged, contrary to the statement I made above, is that Flight Global dominates the online audience in every category.

With over 118 thousand pages of information available, they manage an estimated 360,000 unique visitors and 4.6 million page views per month. Next up are Aviation Week and Jane’s who both have a mixed model of public and premium pages. For their public pages, their numbers are similar: around 35,000 pages available, generating an estimated 1.2 million page views by 110,000 unique visitors per month. That is roughly a third of what Flight Global generates. So even if you optimistically double the page views to account for the password protected data (the unique visitor counts would be unchanged), Flight Global is still well ahead. It is important to note that Jane’s traffic numbers are skewed compared to the Aviation Week ones because janes.com handles a number of topic not related directly to our industry. They should therefore be somewhat discounted.

However, niche magazines seem to be missing the online domain entirely. Aircraft Maintenance Technology, Aviation International News, Aviation Today and Defense Systems all have less monthly unique visitors than they have circulation for their flagship magazines. They have the least amount of information available, and therefore generate the least “stickiness” with an average of 6 page views per unique visitor as opposed to over 10 for the industry leaders. Aviation International News has the least stickiness with less than 4. They also all have less than 2000 followers on Twitter (Aircraft Maintenance technology has less than 100!) which seems to be an important traffic driver for the top websites.

Most of the A&D Media publishers also offer “Premium” (paid) products both in print and online. Those are difficult to compare because their circulation and traffic numbers are not public. Segmented headline newsletters (with electronic version usually available alongside) seem to be the most common. The larger publishers also provide database and reference services that are well suited for online access. AviationWeek has indicated a steady growth in their Intelligent Network (AWIN) and MRO Prospector online products. Flight Global has a number of online paid products including the Air Transport Intelligence (ATI) as well as a series of “Analysis Systems” geared at various segments of the industry.


Despite the introduction of new technologies such as the Kindle and iPad, the convenience and portability of a paper magazine won’t go away for a while. At least not until we have a complete generational overhaul of our industry’s personnel. Judging by the subscription level changes of the last 5 years, the reduction in subscribers seems to follow the natural attrition rate of the industry. That is except for Flight Global. The reduction in their circulation numbers are the most significant in the industry (down 23% since 2005), but they have by far the largest web traffic. Critics will say that providing most of the content for free online hurt their subscriptions figures. However, they offer online advertisers the largest targeted audience with tremendous demographic information, and great campaign flexibility that just impossible to match in print. Will their loss in subscription revenue be compensated by the increase in online advertising and premium web-based product revenue? I personally think it can.

The modern business to business marketing techniques suggest strongly that print advertising still works well for brand awareness, but that online campaigns yield the best results when it comes to cost effective lead generation. That puts the smaller publishers in the toughest spot. They make very little revenue from magazine subscriptions yet must carry the significant production costs. They are sustained by traditional (brand) advertising and small premium products, while their online traffic numbers do not allow them to commandeer premium advert insertion rates on their websites.  For example, Aviation International News has a similar print circulation than Flight International. However, they have almost no paid subscribers. They have strong print advertisers and high content volume, but they struggle to invest in their online platform and therefore are losing ground to their competitors.  Combine that with a very low Twitter presence and it shows the typical profile of an A&D Media company that used to do well, but is now unable to keep up or grow. Aviation Today, Aircraft Maintenance Technology and Defense Systems are all in the same position.

Air Transport World and Defense News have managed better online numbers that the other small magazines. Defense News in particular has a tremendous amount of traffic and inbound links for very low available content. By focusing on their online products and traffic these companies could continue to play a strong role in the landscape and segment they serve.

As for AviationWeek, they have great revenue coming from their print magazine. Based on their published subscription price, and factoring in some corporate discount, I estimate their subscription revenues at around $7M. In addition, B2B magazine revealed AviationWeek’s print advertising revenue to be at $12.7M. That is roughly $20M/year in print revenue excluding other premium services, online services, conferences, and online advertising.  Knowing full well that growing their on line portfolio will cannibalize some of that “traditional” revenue, one can understand the careful and measured approach taken by the company when it comes to web based publishing.

My analysis only covered the 10 A&D magazines with the largest physical circulation. There are dozens of other magazines and websites that cover small segments of the industry and draw a very narrow but enthusiastic demographic. Since most of them are driven by advertising and sponsorship revenues, they will all struggle to keep up with the business environment changes afoot unless they manage to make a significant and successful transition online.

Consolidation of the smaller magazines into larger entities could occur but the difficulty is that the audiences overlap significantly and the net revenue increase for the buying company is usually not meaningful enough. Delivering specialized narrow content is only cost effective online if the company has a flexible web platform. That requires significant upfront investment with a long term ROI. So in the next 5 years, I foresee a consolidation of intellectual capital (journalists) into larger properties. They will create better content in a timelier manner as well as premium advanced analytics tools and services. But unfortunately, I don’t think the printed landscape can sustain the diversity that has existed until today.

What do you think of the A&D media landscape? What are some of the trends and innovations you would like to see as a publisher or a reader? What information will A&D businesses expect from these media companies?

Farnborough Air Show 2010: Review of Online Coverage July 29, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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In every one’s opinion, last week’s Farnborough Air Show turned out to be more exciting than previously anticipated. The 787 fly-in, large aircraft orders and a generally optimistic mood contributed to a great success. But this show was not constraint to just an airfield southwest of London, it was also experienced online by thousands of professionals from all corners of the world. Compared to last year’s Paris Air Show, Farnborough brought many innovations and expansions online.


The three main aerospace publishers were once again present at the show and online. Aviation International News (AIN), AviationWeek, and FlightGlobal all set-up camp on-site to produce the traditional daily publications that have been handed out to attendees for years. As it is now customary for each major show, they also created an event landing page on their website to broadcast news and information. Each organization produced a massive amount of reports:

  AIN AviationWeek FlightGlobal
Dailies Produced 4 4 4
(+3 online)
Articles 196 35 591
Blog Entries N/A 41 72
Pictures 165 120 205
Videos N/A 27 31

AIN and AviationWeek used the same website than at previous airshows (See Singapore review) with no significant new features. I am sure that loyal followers of these websites are comfortable with their formats. However, I did not like the obtrusive advertising that seems to be creeping up with each new show. The AviationWeek site in particular now seems to feature more company logos than your average race car! But according to their own press release, AviationWeek’s steady coverage of the show seems to resonate with their internet audience.

By contrast, the online innovation leader was once again FlightGlobal. Not only did they produce the most content, their new “Tree of Communications” website is clean, fully featured and easy to use. It integrates multi-media information with all the social tools required in modern information publishing and manages to do it in a slick and cool interface. The online audience is reacting well to the new design according to these record-breaking internet traffic figures. I tend to agree. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Links, links, links: using their extensive tagging engine, most pages you browse automatically display a list of related articles, videos and pictures. It is very easy to navigate and allows you to dive-in. Articles can also be sorted by popularity (most viewed) or by ranking (based on user feedback). The blog entries are an easy way to start your daily show review as they provide the links to the various pieces of information related to each subject.
  • Videos: as I have mentioned before, the FlightGlobal daily wrap-ups are my favorite. The dynamic duo of FlightBlogger and Runway Girl were once again in rare form while bringing us the show essentials in a fun and casual daily report. Critics will say that the videos are amateurish at best, but I think this is much more engaging for the new generation of Aerospace workers than reading endless pretentious reports. However, I will say that for feature pieces, AviationWeek demonstrated their maturity and professionalism under the leadership (and impeccable voice-over) of accomplished broadcaster Ed Hazelwood. Just compare AviationWeek’s “787 Arrives Farnborough” versus FlightGlobal’s “John Ostrower takes you on a tour of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner” to see the difference. This is one area where AviationWeek has definitely improved since Paris, and where FlightGlobal could invest a bit more time.
  • Show Guide: Although AviationWeek’s Show Guide is full of information and practical information, its PDF format misses the opportunity to provide much better online content. I love the static display map provided by FlightGlobal with each aircraft linked to a full profile with related articles, pictures and videos.
  • Live flight display: in cooperation with FLIR Systems, each afternoon’s flight display was rebroacast online. This was a nice addition to the site especially when the picture would switch to infrared mode and show the heat profile of some of the airplanes.
  • FourSquare: FlightGlobal organized an online contest using their Stefan the Pilot profile to highlight different areas of the show. Using FourSquare, Stefan “checked-in” to locations of interest and challenged others to follow him. The person that managed to follow Stephan the most by the end of the show won an iPad. This is once again an interesting experiment by Flight Global that has the potential of providing new avenues for sponsorship and revenues for the publisher.

All industry media companies were also very active on Twitter, with AviationWeek and FlightGlobal producing the most updates from their main accounts as well as from a group of on-site and off-site journalists. Compared to last year, AviationWeek did a much better job with Twitter under the incessant enthusiasm of @AvWeekBennet. But I feel it still lacked the “play-by-play” feeling that the on-site Flight Global team delivered. The Twitter statistics seem to confirm that fact, with Flight’s @FlightBlogger being the most retweeted contributor to the #FARN10 stream. But I think that is a matter of personal preference. Judging strictly by comparing @flightglobal and @aviationweek, I think they were very similar in presence and quality.

In conclusion, and compared to last year, AIN stayed the same; AviationWeek improved its social media presence and video production; while Flight Global continues to embrace the online environment with more innovation and more content.


While the main Aerospace players were barely active online at Paris last year, Farnborough saw an explosion of online content from most of them. I think these companies finally realized that the show plays out online as much as on the ground.  As I recommended in this article, most of them created dedicated microsites for the Farnborough air show. The content included:

Company Show Schedule Videos Pictures Blogs
Airbus N 16 93 N
Boeing Y 32 41 34
Bombardier Y 15 24 N
EADS Y 19 65 7
Lockheed Y 2 25 N
Northrop Y 6 31 N
Pratt & Whitney Y 0 0 N
Raytheon N 3 13 13
Thales N 0 53 8

Out of all these microsites, here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Boeing’s onsite videos were very professional and to the point. They produced 32 reports for the show (most of them on site) while maintaining a very high level of quality and interesting content. Boeing posted their videos in their own library, while Bombardier, EADS, Lockheed, and Raytheon used YouTube to store their videos which I think might get them more views in the long run.
  • Of those that posted their show schedule and show contact information, I liked how Boeing linked the executives’ pictures and bio right from the schedule page. I think it is important to show attendees who is who at the show so they can be recognized from their picture.
  • BAE Systems and EADS provided 3D guided tours of their booths with links to the various product and programs being displayed. I found this particularly interesting for power users who will want to plan their visit ahead of time. Thales also provided a booth description along with a “how to find us” page which I found very useful.
  • Raytheon provided a nice media coverage section with links to stories from other media organizations about Raytheon. I think this was a clever way to provide more content on the microsite.

For the top industrial players, Farnborough also saw a significant uptake in the use of Twitter. While EADS and SuperJet just joined the platform for the show, most of the others took advantage of the social media tool to distribute their information online and bring people to their dedicated microsites. Most advertised their Twitter presence online with some of them, such as Boeing, even providing an integrated twitter feed applet. A comparison of the numbers of followers from a year ago shows the undeniable uptake in microblogging:

Twitter Account Followers at 2009 Paris Air Show Followers at 2010 Farnborough
@BoeingAirplanes 0 7256
@LockheedMartin 268 4339
@NorthropGrumman 680 3139
@RaytheonCompany 625 2909
@EmbraerAeronaut 3 1673
@PrattandWhitney 351 1485
@Bombardier 53 1419
@BAESystemsInc 0 1146
@ThalesGroup 76 728

But not all companies did well when it comes to online presence at Farnborough. Embraer, General Dynamics, GE, and Rolls-Royce had NO online presence. Airbus, BAE Systems Corporate, General Dynamics and Rolls-Royce don’t even have a Twitter account! Also, the Airbus, EADS, and Thales microsites did not offer the now standard “Share” button for users to be able to disseminate information throughout the social media cloud. I think this will turn out to be a significant disadvantage in the future.

With their new website and Farnborough microsite, I think Boeing has really taken the lead in online presence and is a great example to follow. Some of the others had original ideas that are worth noting as well. However, I think the show organizers and the smaller exhibitors once again missed the opportunity to make a difference online which continues to disappoint.

What were your thoughts about Farnborough online?  What are the things you liked and didn’t like? Please share your views in the comments below. All opinions are welcomed!

FlightGlobal and AINOnline iPhone Apps Reviews May 18, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, Internet Marketing, iPhone, Social Media, Twitter.
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When FlightGlobal released its A&D News iPhone app a few months ago, I downloaded it in the first couple of days. They were the first A&D media company venturing on the platform and they were rushing to get it ready in time for the Singapore Air Show. Last week, AINOnline released their own iPhone app which they have been working on for a few months. Both apps are free and they offer very different features, but which one should you be using? Let’s take a look.

Before jumping into the details, it is important to note that these apps are pioneering a new platform for our industry. Both Michael Targett (FlightGlobal) and Chad Trautveter (AINOnline), the respective Online Editors, insist that this is just “version 1” and that they have many improvements in the work for future versions. So it is important to judge the application in their current state rather than in regards to the “could be” state.

Note: FlightGlobal Released A New Version of this App in November 2010
See Complete Review Here

Click to watch videoThe FlightGlobal iPhone app (Search for “FlightGobal” in AppStore) strives to be very complete and uses many different features. At a high level, it offers 5 sections: news, blogs, twitter feed, videos, and jobs. The interface is configurable to arrange and display your favorite sections at the bottom of the screen. The app is designed mainly as a “jump point” to other apps. The News section only contains the headlines, and links to the main website in the Safari app for the whole article. The Video section links to the YouTube app. The Jobs section has more information, but still requires jumping to the Safari browser for proper formatting and interaction. The Twitter section lists the tweets from the entire FlightGlobal team, however, it requires that you jump and login to the Twitter website on the Safari app for interaction such as retweeting or opening the embedded links. The Twitter section also seems to lag behind the current timeline by as much as several days. The Blog section has the most content (with full blog posts and pictures) although some of them simply embed the main website page. The Search section only returns hits from the photo gallery, so it is not very useful to parse the news and blog items available. This is a big setback to find the news you want as the app does not allow the categorization of news between Airline, Business, MRO, Defense, etc… Most pages have the ability to email someone a link to the story, using the iPhone email app. The app does not work offline and it reloads all data every time it opens. It also has no resiliency so every time you come back from another app, it takes you back to the home page rather than the page and/or item you were reading.

Click to watch videoThe AINOnline iPhone app (Search for “AINOnline” in AppStore) takes the very pragmatic approach to delivering basic content to mobile users. The app is organized in three main sections: Headlines, Categorized News, and Calendar. The Categorized section provides grouping of news items in no less than 15 different topics ranging from Airlines, to Avionics, to Defense, and Rotorcraft. The main menu at the bottom of the screen is configurable to allow your favorite categories to be accessible quickly. The rest are reached through the “More” button. Each section contains at least a couple of week’s worth of news articles. The display provides a chronological list of headlines and synopsis. Each item can be read in its entirety by clicking on it. When reading a specific item, you can send a link via email or post it on Twitter. There are also links to the full web version in Safari to access the pictures and other features. The calendar provides links to each event’s website as well as a useable phone number (click to call). All th eexternal apps are imbedded in the viewer so you do not have to leave the application when jumping off. There is also an omnipresent search feature that scans the entire content, however it cannot be restricted to a single category. The most attractive part of this application is that it can be used off-line. Because the app only contains text, updates when connected are extremely fast. You can do a quick refresh over WiFi or 3G before boarding the flight and have hours of reading available while off-line. The app also resiliency, so if you close it, you get back to the last screen you were on.

As I said before, this will be an evolving medium. Perhaps that is why AviationWeek is late to the table with no iPhone app development underway only “considerations“. Greg Hamilton, their Online Publisher, argues that their mobile website works well on iPhone and that it serves the needs of their audience. It doesn’t work off-line, but using WiFi it is fast and offers many of the features I like in the AINOnline app. It is a valid alternative approach that also has the advantage of covering all platforms, not just the iPhone. But when it comes to leveraging the unique features of each Smartphone system (like customization or integration), AviationWeek offers only the “lowest common denominator” approach. It is interesting to note that neither FlightGlobal nor AINOnline offer a mobile version of their site, arguing that the Smartphones display their regular site well enough. I am not convinced that it is a good argument. The AviationWeek mobile site is definitely the best way to get A&D News on the other Smartphones. And aren’t there more BlackBerrys than iPhones in use in the A&D industry anyway?

But if you are an iPhone user, the AINOnline app is much more useable than the FlightGlobal app or the AviationWeek mobile site. It works “off-line”, has all the content you need organized in easy-to-use categories, allows customization, and avoids unnecessary bells-and-whistles. So until new versions come out, I would say definitely download the AINOnline app.

For future versions, I’d like the apps providers to consider a few additional features:

  • The offline mode is extremely important so I can read the news anywhere and at anytime. This will be even more important for the iPad version! The app should therefore allow for quick text download with the option to download larger items such as pictures on demand (either as a setting or via a button in the item)
  • Provide resiliency to allow me to return to the last place I was in the app after I come back.
  • An indicator of what items I have already read with the ability to “Mark all Read” and selectively sort and display on this criteria would optimize reading over multiple sessions. (“Where was I again?”).
  • Full reposting of the stories via email, Twitter, Facebook, and Digg using APIs rather than application call-out. This is the best way to generate traffic back to the main website.
  • Customizable search with the option the save my favorite queries. This way, if I am interested in “Airbus” I can re-run the search every time I open the app. I should also be able to limit the query to a specific category.
  • Provide a “favorite” button and section to save stories of particular interest.
  • Provide a “like” button to create trending and create a “most watched” section based on it.
  • Provide YouTube integration via an imbedded mobile interface (in HTML5) rather than jumping out to the external app.
  • Create a separate “Major Events” app to handle Farnborough, Paris, and NBAA to allow special features and content, rather than trying to cramp everything in the main app.

What do you think of the apps? How do use them? What would you want in future versions? The best way to make the apps better is to discuss them and suggest new ideas. But first, pass the word and have as any people as possible download the apps so publisher can measure the interest.

MRO Americas and EBACE Online Coverage: Missed Opportunity for Exhibitors? May 12, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
Tags: , , ,

Two major A&D shows followed in rapid order over the last three weeks, and looking at the online coverage of Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhaul (MRO) Americas and the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE), there were no major new developments when it came to the coverage of these shows on the Internet. Needless to say, that was disappointing.

As usual, the full press corps was present. Even though MRO Americas was organized by Aviation Week, Flight Global had sent a four people team to cover the show. At EBACE, those two organizations were also joined in Geneva by Aviation International News (AIN).

For MRO Americas, AviationWeek and Flight Global had their usual website landing pages with Flight also producing their online flight daily chuck full of videos during two of the three days of the show. Reporters on the ground posted blogs and used the Twitter effectively. News from the show was also available in Flight Global’s iPhone application.

For EBACE, the organizers were the first ones to try to expand the use of internet during the show. They designed a basic web-based mobile application with schedule information, exhibitor list, floor plan, and news feed. They used twitter (@ebace) before and during the show to provide information and updates in the #EBACE stream. This was a good start that I hope other organizers will pick up and improve on.

On the media side, AIN joined the fray with their regular website landing page, adding to that of AviationWeek and FlightGlobal. AviationWeek did include videos in a couple of their online ShowNews (a first!), but as usual, none of the content from the daily magazine was repurposed on the website (I sound like a broken record!). In fact, if you want a media review of this show, you can read my blog about the Singapore Air Show and change the name of the conference.

I must also point out that @AvWeekBenet was able to attend EBACE in person and that the Twitter feed from AviationWeek was finally of much better quality than that of previews shows. However, all three news organizations could still improve on their online coverage as discussed previously. To best describe the ideal coverage, I would say that I would want to see AIN’s news content in FlightGlobal’s multiformat web platform delivered to AviationWeek’s online audience.

But to be fair, the industry press had these two events well covered online. The 6,000 attendees of MRO Americas and the 11,000 attendees of EBACE certainly were well-informed and so were the ten of thousands of unique visitors that followed on Twitter and came to the AviationWeek, AIN and Flight Global websites during and after the shows. So with such huge information pipe available to them, why didn’t the approximately 800 exhibitors of MRO Americas and the 450 exhibitors of EBACE take more advantage of online coverage?

The MRO Americas exhibition floor was open for 16 hours over a period of three days. As with many events, it was open in parallel to conference sessions for most of that time. Assuming that the average attendee would spend 3 hours a day on the show floor (which in my own experience would be enormous), and would spend 15 minutes to have meaningful interactions with each exhibitor visited, it means that in an ideal situation, 36 exhibitors would get visited by each attendee. That represents 1 company visited for each 20 exhibiting. For EBACE the numbers work out to approximately 1 out of 10. For Farnborough and Singapore, it might be has high as 1 out of 50 or more. As if that was not bad enough, small exhibitors have to compete against larger companies that will attract attendees by default and keep them for longer periods of time. Which means that if you are not Honeywell, Embraer, or Rolls-Royce, your odds of getting visited are heavily stacked against you.

In the past, companies used traditional methods to try to bring people to their booths: use printed advertising, press releases and sponsorship to promote their booth number; make their booth attractive (ooh shiny!); or “buy” as many random business cards as possible with contests, drawings, or give-aways. But today, it doesn’t work that way anymore. The Power Attendees (the ones that matter – not the ones on a “business vacation”) have a pre-determined list of vendors they want to see. They come to the show with a target list and they try to fit them all in. There is no “browsing”, there is no “I wonder what this company does?” Who has time for that anymore?

These days, business is all about efficiency and that goes for attending trade shows as well. Power Attendees will have a predefined rigorous program established before they get to the event: fly in; attend specific sessions (and skip others); visit specific exhibitors; set aside time for email, phone calls and exercise; socialize with industry acquaintances; and fly out.

As an exhibitor, you have to realize that in today’s world, there are only three reasons a Power Attendee will visit your booth:

  • they have a pre-existing direct interest in your product (e.g. existing customer, pre-show marketing campaign)
  • they are steered toward your product by the industry media or an independent conference speaker
  • you are recommended by someone they trust attending the conference.

You should use the web to help develop these reasons and increase the chances of getting visited by the Power Attendees. The basic approach would be to use the trade show to TEACH attendees something rather than to SELL something. What is more attractive: “Stop by the booth the see my new sensors”, or “Stop by to learn the three factors that make old sensors malfunction”? If you are good at teaching and your sensors do address the three factors, you will sell them – implicitly!

With that approach in mind, here are three things should do before and during the show:

  1. USE YOUR WEBSITE: create a specific landing page related to the event you are attending. So many exhibitors simply put up a link from their event page to the event home page without taking the opportunity to explain why attendees should be interested in visiting them at the show. Create a page that is specific to your participation at the show. Provide a compelling argument about what you want to teach them (perhaps as a short video), provide information in advance such as a white paper (download it in exchange for contact info), and solicit feedback. If a potential attendee posts a comment on your event page saying “excited to come see you at the show”, it will definitely pique the interest of other attendees. Allow attendees to share a link to your show page with others via email or on social networks. Provide practical information about who will represent you on the show floor. Indicate when you will be there (specifically) and where you can be found. List names, function, specialties, cell phone numbers, email address, and twitter accounts. Provide your associates’ pictures. Simply put, make it easy for attendees to find you. Remember to draw the media to your show page so they might have an interest in discussing your educational approach prior to the show (not necessarily in an article, but on a blog or on twitter).
  2. TAKE PART IN THE PRE-SHOW CONVERSATION ONLINE: prior to the show, start talking about what you want to teach attendees on Twitter, and in online forums such as LinkedIn. Several events set up specific groups or Twitter hashtags prior to the conference where attendees can network before they travel. AviationWeek and Flight Global also have free forums sites (AWConnect and AirSpace respectively) that are a great place to discuss the challenges you are trying to solve. Be non-commercial in your discussions, leverage the website landing page you have built and invite the attendees to connect at the conference.
  3. INTERACT WITH ATTENDEES ONLINE DURING THE EVENT: monitor the conference stream on Twitter and get involved in the conversation. Try to contribute rather than sell. Gain respect for your expertise in the community. Find out what the “buzz” is, our create your own. Create “impromptu” events over twitter by gathering people of similar affinity or background at a lunch table or at the bar after hours. Involve the press in the discussion. Post answers on their blog posts, upload pictures or even short videos to the conference site or YouTube.

Events are using the web more and more to promote and manage their events. The industry media is jumping on the band wagon (we various degrees of success), but definitely creating buzz. Vendors who are not taking advantage of this media to their advantage are definitely missing out. And despite what many believe, you do not need a big budget or a large staff to take advantage of this opportunity. If you want to check out a company that does this well, check out Duncan Aviation’s EBACE page and follow them on twitter (@DuncanAviation). They understand the digital environment and they are getting ahead!

Are you taking advantage of the Internet when exhibiting at an Aerospace event? Share your story, ask your questions, or share some tips here. We would love to hear from you.

Boeing changes communication strategy with new website, twitter accounts April 20, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
Tags: , ,

If you read my post about the Social Media Score Card for the Top 10 Aerospace Companies, you noticed my lament at the absence of Boeing on the scene. So imagine my excitement when Boeing actually launched not one but three Twitter accounts last week, followed this week by a major website redesign.

Talking to Todd Blecher, Communications Director at The Boeing Company, you get a sense of why they waited to jump into the Social Media mania: “We have been observing Twitter for a while and have learned a lot from Boeing experiments such as UnitedStatesTanker.com and Randy’s Journal. We did not want to rush into Social Media platforms without having something interesting to say. Simply getting on Twitter or on FaceBook is not a productive Communication strategy in itself.”

Boeing felt that with a million unique visitors per month, Boeing.com needed to be the hub on which a new strategy could be rooted. “But we wanted to make sure that if we brought people to the website via Twitter and other means, the experience was not boring or targeted only at our obvious audiences such as airlines and government. We wanted to create a reputational enhancement strategy that will better the opinion of Boeing amongst other audiences such as future employees and the general public.”

The new website is organized around a handful of featured stories that focus on the people and customers of Boeing rather than just the technology it produces. This gives the company a more “human” face rather than the colder and glossy corporate feel it had before. “We wanted our people to be the voice of our topics”, said Blecher. The stories will be updated on a weekly basis by an editorial team of about a dozen people across both the Commercial Airplanes and Defense business units. The new website also features a social media “share” button on many pages allowing users to propagate Boeing’s message throughout the Digital Environment. Finally, the “comments” function was added at the bottom of the story pages, a major change for the site. Randy’s Journal, the Commercial Airplanes pioneering blog, has more details about the other new features. My only suggestion would be to feature the Twitter accounts on the home page, something I am sure they will fix soon.

@BoeingCorporate, @BoeingAirplanes, and @BoeingDefense share the load on Twitter. I like the tone and direction of the twitter feeds so far. They have not just used them to simply repeat their press release headlines. They have actually provided interesting insight (e.g. volcano ash impact), they have retweeted third party stories, and they have actually responded to other tweets. All this shows me that they have done their homework before jumping in. Blecher indicated that they are trying to have a measured approach to twitter, trying to engage in interesting conversations and advocacy without creating an overwhelming information flow. I totally agree with this. If I want to get a company’s press releases, I’ll subscribe to their RSS feed, not their twitter feed.

I look forward to the next Boeing developments in the Digital Environment. Blecher indicated that they are considering a FaceBook presence as well as a stronger engagement during the major Aerospace events. “Although we feel that any Aerospace company has a great opportunity to use Social Media to enhance its presence at a show like Farnborough, we remain prudent in our approach and might not be ready to take full advantage of it this year.” This prudence is reflected when I asked about YouTube. Blecher indicated that Boeing was uncomfortable with the platform because they could not control what was displayed beside their videos on YouTube. “We are getting more open with the new website and twitter accounts, but we are not ready to turn our communication landscape into the Wild West.”

I believe this is the right approach for Boeing and they have the right idea. It is a major change for them and I applaud their initiative. Let’s see what they can make of it and how it resonates with audiences. What do you think of it?

Heli-Expo 2010: An Experiment in Social Media March 3, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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The annual HeliExpo took place in Houston last week. Although this is already the largest helicopter event in the world with 16,000 visitors and 595 exhibitors, it was interesting to see how it also played out on the web, before and during the show. As usual, I was online to watch, measure and evaluate. Here is my take.


As always, the industry media was present at the show. However, it was strange to see a very different dynamic than at the recent Singapore or Dubai airshows. Unlike Aviation International News which put out a similar coverage than at the other shows, AviationWeek and Flight Global were relatively quieter.

  Articles Blog Entries Photos Videos
AINonline 130 0 124 7
AviationWeek 0 29 51 0
Flight Global 17 0 0 14
HeliHub.com 143* 0 0 0
Rotor and Wing 0 10 55 20

*Reposts from other sources

AIN produced the most professional videos through their affiliate AINtv which was contracted especially for the show. Rotor and Wing and Flight Global produced lesser quality videos with some major editing and sound issues in a few of them. Rotor and Wing posted their videos on YouTube which made them show up in Google searches although the tagging was not uniform (e.g. why not use HeliExpo10 as a tag?).

AIN was the only news organization that used the #HE10 twitter feed to aggressively promote their content online with 143 posts throughout the show. AviationWeek and Flight Global managed less than 20 posts each (in the stream). However, Flight Global had a Twitter widget on their show page that was tracking the “Heli Expo” keyword so they managed to capture a good portion of the conversation. The other news organizations posted from their twitter accounts but never used the #HE10 tag despite several attempts to contact them to correct the issue. This seems like a lost opportunity especially for HeliHub and Rotor and Wing which have relatively small followings (500 and 800 respectively).

At the end of the show, a quick online survey was generated by @Heli_Expo. Although the participation was low, the results (available in PDF) show that “Article from News Organizations” is by far the most important use of Twitter by professionals in our industry. Even though I believe this will eventually change, I think smaller online news outfits should pay more attention to HOW they use twitter for shows like this. They should definitely use the hashtags so they can be read by a group larger than their followers. They should also post shorter tweets that can be reposted without editing. For example, @HeliHub should limit their original posts to a maximum of 127 characters since any repost will take an additional 13 characters for the prefix “RT @HeliHub: “ . This is actually a good tip for any organization that posts on Twitter and wants a chance to be re-tweeted.


Speaking about other organizations on Twitter, an amazing 77 HeliExpo exhibitors had twitter accounts. @Heli_Expo created a very convenient Twitter List of all the exhibitor accounts. Even though this media is new to most of them, some have embraced it quiet nicely as showed by the top contributors to the #HE10 stream:

  Tweets Exhibitor?
HAImandy 181 Organizer
AINonline 131 Yes
HELI_expo 111  
41 Yes
FSIrivet 30 Yes
roadshownews 21  
GPS4aircraft 16 Yes
DakotaAirParts 13 Yes
dnpixl 13  
CNTV 12  
bbryon 9  
embryriddle 8 Yes

I was shocked that more of them did not take advantage of this medium which overall had good activity. There were 670 posts from 51 different accounts in the #HE10 stream. But many companies do not even advertise they have a Twitter account on their home page, even when their account is relatively active (See DakotaAirParts).

Also absent from the #HE10 stream were the Helicopter manufacturers. Five of them have official Twitter accounts: @SikorskyAircraft, @Eurocopter_EADS, @one_bell, @MDHelicopters, and @RusHeliCo. Sikorsky and Eurocopter were the most active while Bell and MD fell silent for some strange reason. I think that was a big mistake when you analyze how Sikorsky approached the use of Twitter at the event.

Sikorsky published 15 press releases around HeliExpo starting with one announcing their Twitter page. The press release contained the strongest endorsement of Twitter by any Aerospace & Defense company to date. Since they had created their account back in December, they opened the show with already over 200 followers as opposed to Eurocopter’s less than 50.

Even though they didn’t use the #HE10 tag, they posted 32 updates during the show. They pushed their press releases, but also targeted the audience at the show by posting booth schedule updates. Despite attempts by several users to dialog with them, they did not respond probably because they have not yet figured out how to make Twitter a two-way channel. This is typical of organizations that are new to this.

But the discussion ABOUT Sikorsky was tremendous and much bigger than for any of their competitors. The keyword “Sikorsky” was mentioned 654 times during the show from 329 different accounts. Their posts were re-tweeted 21 times by 8 different accounts to a total of 1928 followers. Ten of Sikorsky’s press releases were also broadcasted 139 times on twitter directly by 81 different accounts to a total audience of 128,344 followers. That is a tremendous online exposure that all exhibitors should be tapping into. There is no way to know how much bigger these numbers would have been if Sikorsky had used #HE10. Sikorsky has now set the standard, so how can a company like MD Helicopters afford not to jump on Twitter?


HeliExpo is organized by the Helicopter Association International. I contacted them before the show to see if they had any social media plans for Houston. Mandy Stahl, a Membership Assistant at HAI, pointed me to her Twitter stream @HAImandy and indicated she had be allowed to post updates before and during the show whenever her regular duties permitted it. From the Twitter stats above as well as the survey results, you can see she did a tremendous job. She also indicated that although the association owned the @HeliExpo account, they were not going to use it. Furthermore, Mandy’s account was not advertised in any official HeliExpo communication from HAI. I thought that was a great loss of opportunity for them.

So I decided to experiment…

Unbeknownst to HAI, I created the @Heli_Expo account at the beginning of February and started posting about the event in the way I thought it should be done. I was careful never to represent the account as being an official account, only using it to promote the event. As I mentioned before, I created a list of exhibitors and posted heavily in the #HE10 stream. I complemented what Mandy was posting avoiding duplicating her work. I worked along three avenues:

  1. Help the exhibitors by reposting their information in the stream, sending them practical local information, and encouraging companies that should have been exhibiting to do so next year.
  2. Help the attendees by posting HeliExpo news and information posted on the web into the #HE10 stream. For example, I found several videos and articles on Google that were not on Twitter so I posted links.
  3. Help the organizers by re-posting show information from their own website such as staff photos and event schedule, as well as promoting Mandy’s account and her work.

@Heli_Expo Twitter Followers

I limited my invested time to 60 hours before the show (mostly on researching the exhibitor list) and 20 hours during the show. I was not physically in Houston and created very little original content. I used only free tools and platforms. The response was tremendous. Many companies and news organizations started following the account and interacting directly with it. The account was recommended multiple times and my posts were re-tweeted to a large following. I can only imagine what the exposure would have been like if this had been an official effort advertised and coordinated by HAI.

I will now send Mandy the passwords to the accounts so HAI can take them over, but I think I have demonstrated to them and other Aerospace associations that a small time investment and a concerted approach can give them a much greater exposure online especially for events like this.

Why let others tell the story of your event when you can steer the conversation yourself? Are you listening Farnborough?

Best use of Social Media in Aerospace: more about the Webbie winners February 24, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, FaceBook, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media, Twitter.
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Earlier this month, I was asked by Flight Global to judge the “Best Use of Social Media” category for the annual Webbie awards. I was joined by industry executive Jim Muttram, Online Strategist and Managing Director at Reed Business Information. Although the results were published with a short comment from the judges, this category was just one amongst many and there was no room to expand on our choices. So here are Jim and my full comments on the three winners, my “lessons learned” from each entry, as well as a review of another best use scenario that would have done well if it had been nominated.

First Place Winner: Northrop Grumman  –  [ Website - Twitter - Facebook ]

  • Full judges’ comments: In 2009, Northrop Grumman took the lead in the implementation of Social Media amongst their industry peers – often quite conservative in the social media space. They established outposts on Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and LinkedIn. They interlinked all of their resources and featured them prominently on their main homepage. They have successfully spurred meaningful conversations on many platforms, used Twitter to guide followers to them, and built dedicated channels, websites, and fan pages to serve “internet tribes” with common interests. They are leveraging all of these platforms for communication with employees, suppliers, customers, and the general public, for information gathering, for education, and for recruiting.
  • Lessons learned: I liked…
    …the full frontal approach to social media and the recognition that multiple platforms and audiences exist out there. I liked the interlinking and reuse of content amongst multiple platforms. Often people think that Social Media means creating new content. Actually it is about guiding audiences to existing internal and external content.
  • Lessons learned: Improvement is needed…
    …in the interaction portion of social media. Although it may be happening behind the scenes, there is not enough “conversation engagement” on the platforms. Soliciting public comments and reactions, polling, answering questions, and contributing to conversations started by others should be a major part of the social media strategy. Secondly, Northrop Grumman is inconsistent in its use of Social Media at tradeshows. Although I understand they cannot “tweet” from every event they participate in, they should do it from all the major ones. For example, they were all but silent during the recent Singapore Air Show.

Second Place Winner: Manchester Airport  –  [ Website - Twitter ]

  • Full judges’ comments: When Manchester Airport decided to use Twitter to communicate with its patrons, they went beyond the traditional “Press Release Distribution” usage many companies implement. They started immediately with a very clever and useful flight departure board feature. But most importantly they engaged with their audience by listening to the conversation and responding to it. The airport shops promotion tie-in to launch and grow the follower base was also very innovative. Manchester Airport have fully appreciated just how flexible and powerful the Twitter platform is, and are to be applauded for their use of it.
  • Lessons learned: I liked…
    …how they launched the service with a promotion and an interactive feature. This is a great way to grow a base of followers very quickly and guarantee that users will remember the service. I like how they listen to the channel and respond to questions.
  • Lessons learned: Improvement is needed…
    …in what the next interactive application will be. This is a two-way platform, what can patrons contribute? Employee nominations, report maintenance issues, parking issues, traffic issues? They should entice users to be part of a community of frequent users (segregated group?) that can feel an “ownership” in the airport operation. Also, using location based technology (such as FourSquare!) to run store promotions might be an interesting development.

Third Place Winner: NYC Aviation  –  [ Website - Twitter - Facebook ]

  • Full judge’s comments: NYCAviation started with a group of NYC plane spotters with limited resources and is growing to a large community of aviation enthusiasts. They have successfully taken the feverish interaction found on their “traditional” website forum to the new FaceBook and Twitter platforms. This has translated to community growth and recognition.
  • Lessons learned: I liked…
    …how they transitioned from a somewhat restrictive bulletin board platform to fully open social media platforms. They are often quoted in professional and main stream media because of the “freshness” and exclusive content provided by their members.
  • Lessons learned: Improvement is needed…
    …in crowd sourcing applications. The main audience of the site is Plane spotters. Why not turn NYCaviation in a more interactive platform for them? Allow registered members to enter plane spotting locations and reviews. Use location base platforms to promote interaction in the field. Allow them to track interesting tail numbers in a database (similar to “Where is George”) and make it a game by keeping scores and showing top lists.

Should have been Nominated: ATP’s AskBob Community
[ Website - TwitterFacebook ]

  • My comments: AskBob was started by Aircraft Technical Publishers (ATP) in 2006 as a simple blog for communicating with customers. As more and more customers started to interact on the blog, Bob Jones, ATP Product Marketing Specialist, started to foster forums between himself, his customers, other aviation mechanics and other experts on a number of subjects. In 2008, the blog grew to a full fledged community and embraced the idea that there is a wealth of experts in the industry who can share information, news, tips, and stories with a large community in search of answers. Expanding to Twitter and FaceBook was an easy next step from there and has allowed Bob and ATP to serve a growing community of almost six hundred members.
  • Lessons learned: I liked…
    …how there is real sense of community on the site. “I cross post a lot of articles on LinkedIn and other forums, while others like NATA do the same on our site. Although I work for ATP, this is truly about sharing information and not at all about marketing. It is a real community service”, Bob told me during a phone interview. Beyond the aviation maintenance specific news posted in the forum, the features most important to the members are their ability to ask questions and to get training tips. Bob also goes out of his way to provide answers. He said: “once I figured out how to use Twitter as an interactive platform, I was able to get a huge amount of information from it and engage industry folks in real conversations.”
  • Lessons learned: Improvement is needed…
    …in opening and delegating the community tasks. I am worried about what would happen to the community if Bob moved on. Others need to be allowed to get involved and help manage the site. In particular, the platform could be used by local mechanics communities and companies to deal with their own issues. Opening up usage to other associations and groups will also insure that the community grows and thrives for the long run.

I am sure there are many more examples of best use of Social Media in aerospace. Please visit this blog or follow me on Twitter to keep informed on this subject. Don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you’d like me to review your efforts or help getting started.

Singapore Air Show Online Coverage by the Numbers February 9, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
Tags: , ,

Last week was the second Singapore Air Show since its split from Asian Aerospace, and judging by the attendance and exhibitors numbers, it remains the third largest Aerospace event in the world after Paris and Farnborough. As I have done during previous events, I was watching the coverage online to see how the physical show transformed into a global virtual show on the web.

Once again the main industry media players dedicated separate sections for the show on their website. Aviation International News, Aviation Week, and Flight Global, all had teams on the ground to file stories, take pictures and create videos. The online content was similar to that produced at the recent Dubai Air Show with some minor exceptions.

  AINonline AviationWeek Flight Global
Online Stories 132 27 80
Blog Posts 0 29 23
Photos 50 117 55
Videos 0 8 29
Onsite Magazine 3 days 3 days 3 days (online)

AINonline added a photo section to its coverage which although basic, shows that they are trying to add more online content to their otherwise still very austere but practical website. They also used Twitter (@AINonline) more aggressively with 55 posts drawing more traffic to their site. Chad Trautvetter, their Online News Editor, said recently that he would like to continue to expand their web coverage and is looking to hopefully add more show resources in 2010.

AviationWeek produced a very small amount of video compared to what they had at the last Paris and Farnborough shows; however the clips were edited with high quality. “That was our intention”, commented Greg Hamilton, Publisher, Strategic Media: “Our website statistics tell us that fewer better produced videos attract the professional audience we serve and generates longer browse time. In fact, photos bring the largest amount of traffic from our commercial aviation and defense segment.” That explains the larger amount of photos posted this time around. Even though on the surface it appears that AviationWeek posted fewer stories than the others, Hamilton explains that “we funnel our content in priority to our paying audience on the AviationWeek Intelligence Network (AWIN) and other daily newsletters. This behind-the-scene process was greatly improved for this show and we have received good feedback from our customers.” AviationWeek uses editorial discretion in terms of what gets posted to the main site as to not overwhelm the audience. Standing outside looking in, the AviationWeek online coverage has not changed for a long time. Every time I open the website, I have visions of square pegs and round holes. The brand is fantastic and the content first class, but it just doesn’t seem to come together very well online. However, Hamilton emphasizes that the content is what their target audience of middle aged, mid to senior executives, wants. Preferably in a traditional easy to use format (e.g. print or email) allowing them to be reliably informed and make trustworthy decisions without having to sift through overwhelming amounts of “information clutter”. This probably explains AviationWeek’s lack of focus on platforms like Twitter which was once again disjointed in Singapore. “We are just not seeing a professional use of it in the industry yet”, said Hamilton.

Flight Global on the other hand is almost taking the opposite approach. They are banking on online coverage and are continuing to build on the foundation they rolled out in Paris and improved at Dubai. However, there were three new additions for this show. First of all, the coverage was available on the new Flight Global iPhone app. Although this app is very primitive by iPhone standards, it gave the user on the move access to the blogs, posts and tweets of the whole team at the show. Second, they released a desktop application a couple of weeks before the show, which meant that you could receive Singapore Air Show coverage right on your screen as it happened. Third, and the “piece de resistance”, was the roll-out of their new online daily magazine for the show. Available from the website and from the desktop application, this hip “webazine” contained videos, photos and links to all the content generated at the show. Although “light” on in-depth content, I loved the new format. If was fun, engaging and easy to read and I could follow links to dive deeper into content that interested me. Then again, I was probably the target audience for that sort of thing. All the Flight Global offerings were “pushed” on Twitter in various well coordinated channels generating several interesting discussion threads. I had two trains of thoughts when I reviewed Flight Global’s online coverage.

First, I looked at the technology. They have now an integrated platform that flows seamlessly between website, blog, community, iPhone app, desktop app, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and FaceBook. They are publishing coordinated content on all these outposts trying to meet the audience where they “hang out” online. Michael Targett, Online and Digital Development Editor, explains: “as a publishing house we’ve been heavily investing in technology for the last two years or so. The vast majority of that technology has yet to even be released so we’re only beginning to flex our muscles as an agile modern digital publisher. Towards the end of this year, but much more in 2011, you will start to see even more offerings both in professional paid-for news and data tools as well as engaging free content.”

Second, I looked at the audience. Flight Global seem to embrace the future. They are capturing the essence of Aerospace coolness and are talking directly to the new generation of workers and managers at a time when A|D|S and AIA want to attract new talent to the industry. @FlightBlogger John Ostrower is the perfect incarnation of what I am talking about. He is not an Aerospace Engineer or an ex-industry executive. He is a young enthusiastic journalist that wants to share his passion with the world. It comes across in everything he does and it is contagious. It is true that some of the content he produces is hardly newsworthy and that trying to read everything that comes out of Flight Global can be overwhelming, but only so for a certain demographic slice of the industry.

So it seems that while AviationWeek focuses on serving their existing customer base while trying to find ways to attract the younger generation, Flight Global is moving full steam ahead to keep up with the new generation while trying not to alienate their existing audience. These two very different approaches are definitely worthy of a separate (and much longer) discussion.

However, Flight Global was not the only one going after the “new generation”. Respected Airline branding expert Shashank Nigam (@SimpliFlying) also made a push for Social Media at the Singapore Air Show. As you can see from this Top 20 list, he was the top contributor amongst the 1583 tweets posted by 315 unique accounts on the show’s #SIN10 stream.

simpliflying 125 Flightglobal 34
williswee 95 Priscias 32
flightblogger 62 defenseflak 30
roadshownews 56 HON_KC 24
AINonline 55 Social_Media_RT 24
Sarah_chong 51 prattandwhitney 23
aviationweek 47 HON_Carrie 22
SivaG 45 apgphoto 19
avtips 37 ATWonline 19
RunwayGirl 35 alert5 18

As a regular contributor to CNN and CNBC, he essentially tried to carry the “social media torch” to the show hoping that everyone in the industry finally opens their eyes to its potential. Although met with criticism from some (make sure to read the comments), I think he should be commanded for its efforts and enthusiasm. I think of Shashank as a prophet converting one aerospace business at the time to the brave new ways of Social Media.

And many more need converting, that is for sure. To Hamilton’s earlier point, this was yet another show where the organizers were totally absent from the online and social media scene. Also, few companies participated online. Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney were very active, but where were the others? Fresh from winning a Webbie for best Use of Social Media, it was disappointing that Northrop Grumman fell silent. Hopefully SimpliFlying will have converted Bombardier and they will start showing up soon.

So all in all, another great performance by Flight Global online, but much disappointment in the rest of the media and industry compared to what this kind of event “could” be if these platforms were used to their full potential like in many other industries. I remain positive and enthusiastic as I see many signs that change is afoot in this domain.

Bahrain Air Show: The invisible online aerospace event January 26, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
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Last week a brand new Aerospace event debuted in the Kingdom of Bahrain. This bi-annual event in a key location for international business promised to be a contender for the marketing budgets of a number of Aerospace companies. The show preview by Flight Global pointed out the potential. The organization by Farnborough International guaranteed a well-run event, and by all reports, the show was a success with over $1 Billion contracted over the three days.

However, for an event that is trying to launch and grow, online coverage was completely ignored by the organizers. Of course you could Google “Bahrain Air Show” and find a mish mash of over 400 articles about the event, but there was no concerted effort to promote this opportunity using social networks before, during or after the show.

In 2010, it is no longer enough to build a “static” website and hope that people will come visit it. Event organizers must interact, broadcast, discuss and engage the global audience they are targeting. I feel that Farnborough International made the classic mistake: they strictly marketed this year’s event instead of using it to promote the next one.

Many Aerospace companies will always take a “wait and see” attitude toward new events, especially ones that require a significant investment. How do the organizers make them feel like they ought to be there next time? By involving them in the current event and make them realize they are missing something. It is called “buzz” and today it happens largely online.

So here are five things Farnborough International could have done better in Bahrain:

  1. Build-up the show by centralizing information about the event and making it interactive: write a blog, create a twitter account, retransmit stories created by others, create a YouTube channel, solicit comments, and participate in the conversation.
  2. Involve the participants: out of the 40 exhibitors, all of them have websites and at least 10 have a Twitter presence. Build up links to the sites, create a twitter list of exhibitors, feature it on the event website, and encourage the participants to share information about the show online.
  3. Target future participants: what is it like at the show? How does it compare to others? What did the participants like? Use the various mediums (e.g. blogs, twitter, discussion forums) to share this information and interact. Not all of it needs to be public; you can have an access controlled exhibitor area in LinkedIn for example.
  4. Crowd source new ideas and wishes: there is always room for improvement and further expansion. But this information is better captured during the event rather than weeks later. Leverage the social media platforms to gather this information as well as wishes for next time. This can then be used to create a better show in two years.
  5. Do not end the dialog when the show ends: organizers should maintain a presence online during the gap between shows. Streaming news and information about the event or location, piggy back on other Aerospace events, and keeping the interaction going will keep the next show in the mind of the Aerospace companies that have to include it in their marketing budgets well in advance.

I know what you are going to say: that is a lot of work and with limited resources, we cannot afford to do much more than we have done so far. The secret is not to add resources, but instead to shift resources. Move away from the traditional promotion methods that have run their course and move budget and personnel toward social media to migrate into the newer way of interacting. A recent survey shows the shift in marketing methods for 2010.

As for participants, they can also take the initiative. Discussing the show and its positive happenings contributes to its success and validates the decision to invest there. ADS Group announced in Bahrain that they were opening offices in the Middle East, but they never posted it on Twitter. AIA told me that they wouldn’t be tweeting from Bahrain because their new media guy could not justify traveling there. But that is just the problem. AIA could “relay” information from the show onto twitter and still provide a valuable service to their members.

The upcoming Singapore Airshow (#SIN10 on Twitter) is gearing up to have a great online coverage, however not from the organizers but rather from Aviation Week and Flight Global. Other major aerospace shows seem to be going the way of Bahrain. I predict that the ones who embrace this technology, and particularly some of the ideas above, will definitely become more successful. It will be interesting to see what Farnborough International does for their summer air show.


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