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NBAA 2011 Online Coverage October 19, 2011

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, eBusiness Applications/Services, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, iPhone, Management, Social Media, Twitter.
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2 comments

A week ago today, the2011 edition of the annual NBAA convention came to an end in Las Vegas. Although the show was a great success “by every yardstick” with over 26000 registered attendees, many business aviation professionals also rely on online coverage to figure out what are the industry trends. So, as I have done in previous years, here is my take on how the show fared on the internet.

News Outlet Coverage

As always the main aviation news outlet were out in force to cover the show. There were no less than 4 production rooms at the convention center where teams from Aviation International News, Aviation Week, Flight Global and NBAA relayed important information online. The content numbers were impressive:

  AINonline Avweek FlightGlobal NBAA
Articles 230 21 130 55
Blogs 2 18 12 0
Videos 10 0 13 18
Photos 54 75 18 216
Daily
Magazine
3 3 6 0

First of all, it was interesting see how NBAA stepped up in its own news coverage of the show with a team of freelance journalists and photographers. They produced quality material throughout the show and took advantage of their website and social media to distribute their content (some of it exclusive). Their website is a bit poor in potential interaction, but in my opinion, they did a better job than AviationWeek. AvWeek’s team continues to disappoint with the least amount of innovation, the smallest online content output and their ill-timed decision to part ways with their star reporter Benet Wilson (@AvQueenBenet) right before the show (although she did a very professional job covering the event for them from Washington).

For innovation, you had to look at AIN and Flight which both released a new version of their websites in time for NBAA. Both companies have recently invested heavily to upgrade their content management capabilities behind the scenes, which will allow them to grow the usability and features they can provide their online readers. At Flight, the changes were both cosmetic and premium user focused. It resulted in a redesign of the navigation features and (at last) in the introduction of a good comment function. As huge as these changes were internally, they left me and many other users underwhelmed by the new website. It is “OK”. I am sure the PRO users will get more for their money, but I did not get a chance to review that part of the site. For AIN however, the change in internal content management provided some much needed improvement to their old website. Because they switched to open platform Drupal, they were able to immediately take advantage of off-the-shelf widgets for twitter, Facebook and trending (showing the most popular article). It is definitely the most improved website of the four I reviewed and I really liked it. Because AIN continued to provide the most extensive content, in a well-designed new website, I think for the first time in my reviews, they have actually edged Flight Global for “best in show” (by the slimmest of margins).

With that said, all these news organizations continue to ignore the iPad as an important delivery platform at the show and off the show. These devices were everywhere in Vegas, and must be included in the content delivery plans of many aviation companies. Testing all websites for iPad compatibility is now a must. None of the four sites’ videos could be accessed directly (other than by jumping to the YouTube app). Furthermore, the daily magazines, available online on each respective websites, were not viewable on the iPad. And even though Flight Global and AIN have iPhone apps that work on iPad, but they have not been upgraded to take advantage of the content features of their new websites, nor do they feature conference specific filtering.

Social Media

Twitter was once again very active with over 2700 posts in the #NBAA11 during the show. The statistics from the archive show a healthy proportion of original content versus retweets as well as a crossover of users. Compared to last year the numbers are similar, but businesses were more directly involved with good interaction. A lot of companies took the opportunity to jump in for the first time, unfortunately most of them simply tweeted “Come see us at booth CXXXX”. Hopefully they have learned something by watching the event stream, joining others at the NBAA sponsored Tweet-up, or reading my advice (shameless plug!).

Amongst the companies most active in Social Media, Duncan Aviation continues to show exemplary behavior. They have been active on Twitter (@DuncanAviation) before and during the show, posted multiple blog entries, and deployed a show specific landing page that increased interactivity online as well as at the booth.

The Future

Technology continues to play a growing role in the world of aviation exhibitions. As mentioned before, the iPad was omnipresent both in delivering solutions, in marketing products and services, but also as an effective tool for attendees. The superior NBAA mobile app was also an interesting step towards changes that are upon us. For future shows, I think that the world of online and on site are headed for convergence with much activity taking place before the show online, while the actual onsite presence will become more efficient but will be shared online with others at the show and watching from afar.

Do you have any thoughts about NBAA or the future of this kind of show? Is there anything I missed online? Let me know what you think.

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Social Media Score Card for top Aerospace Associations January 13, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, FaceBook, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media, Twitter.
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3 comments

A few months back I wrote about the “Three must-do for industry associations’ websites.” I received promising feedback from several prominent groups, so I thought I would check out their progress as we begin this New Year. I reviewed the websites of 42 Aerospace, Aviation, and Defense Associations websites, and the results are unfortunately dismal.

With every other industry embracing Social Media whole heartedly, it was not surprising to me that our community would be slow to react. However, recent signs of movement have appeared and I am starting to see traction from major Aerospace companies and many Airlines. All that have tried it are indicating early success and are eager to grow the use of Social Media in 2010.

Most of the associations I researched had very similar goals: promote the members’ capabilities, provide networking opportunities, gather feedback and create a “representative” voice. You would think that with these goals, associations would jump on the benefits that Social Media has to offer. But yet, most are completely ignorant of this new trend.

FAILING GRADE

For example, the Air Transport Association (ATA) who’s many members have seen great benefits from social media (See article from SITA), has remained on the sidelines. Elsewhere in the United States, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the Helicopter Association International (HAI), and the Aviation Suppliers Association (ASA) have no Twitter presence, no website interaction beyond email, and have no way to share their information on other social media sites. In Europe, the Aerospace & Defense Industries Association of Europe (ASD) as well as all but one of its 28 members have no social media features on their website. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) does have an unpublicized twitter account (@iataevents) which it uses for a few of its big events.

That seems to be the approach the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) is taking by having twitter feeds set-up for some of events in 2010. This was no doubt inspired by the pioneering social media work done by its subsidiary the Association For Enterprise Information (AFEI) (Disclaimer: I supported those efforts in 2009). Despite some of its most prominent members such as Pratt&Whitney, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman going full speed ahead with Social Media in 2010, NDIA remains mostly uninvolved. But there are some rays of hope.

COULD DO BETTER

The venerable Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and its UK counterpart A|D|S (former Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC)), are both active on Twitter. Although @AIA_News mostly posts the main headline of its daily briefing, a couple of more interesting posts have appeared lately. Also the last few editions of their AIA eUpdate newsletter finally have the standard “Share” button at the bottom of their pages. I do not understand how this is not used more throughout the site. From the UK, @adsgroupuk has been a fairly active and militant account and I have seen a good bit of interaction with them. However, neither AIA nor A|D|S publicize their twitter account on their home page. There also doesn’t seem to be a Social Media strategy from A|D|S for the upcoming Farnborough air show, but that will be the subject of another blog post.

Patrick Carlson, Online Communications Manager at AIA, says that Social Media is a major agenda item for the association in 2010. The experimentation they did last year with the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) was very successful and they now need to determine the best way to engage various portions of the AIA audience from young people, to industry, and to staffers on the Hill. “We believe there is an opportunity here” said Carlson, “and you should see a lot more from us this year, particularly during the upcoming major Aerospace events.” That is very encouraging.

TOP OF THE CLASS

Three associations are noticeably ahead of the rest.

The National Air Transport Association (NATA) has established a presence on Twitter (@NATAaero) as well as on FaceBook. They responded to some of their pioneering members such as Duncan Aviation, Cutter Aviation, Priester Aviation and DB Aviation who are all active users of Social Media. They advertise their presence right on the home page, and they maintain an active blog. They provide members with the ability to interact mainly on the blog, but they do not have the ability to share information on other Social Media sites.
Score Card: B-

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has been the most active and vocal about Social media. They have established a strong and active presence on Twitter (@NBAA) and on FaceBook. They have used social media at their events by taking advantage of hashtags. They even have had dedicated Social Media sessions at their conferences (See #NBAAsm). These sessions have generated huge interest and been very well attended and received. They are advertising their social media activities right on their home page and they have a “Share” button on just about every page. I would like to see a regular blog to round out their presence, but I guess it would be duplication the great job Benet Wilson is doing at AviationWeek’s Business Aviation Now blog. Patrick Dunne, NBAA Communications Manager, says: “Social Media is a great way to reach out to our community, participate in the conversation, and offer support. Even though our members have interacted on our AirMail forum system for years, we find the social media platforms offer new opportunities for engagement.”
Score Card: B+

But by far the best implementation of Social Media by an Association can be found at the Air Force Association (AFA). No doubt encouraged by the US Department of Defense superb use of Social Media, the AFA has taken advantage of all the benefits of these platforms in its activities. From Twitter (@AirForceAssoc) to FaceBook as well as LinkedIn, AFA is omnipresent. Much activity is generated before during and after its events. The content on the site can be shared on other social media sites. And there are many good opportunities for interaction on the site and on the blog. Chet Curtiss, Director of Communications at AFA says their implementation of Social Media was an absolute requirement: “Our mission is to advocate and educate the American public and the younger audience in particular, about Aerospace Power. As technology started to evolve, we could not be left behind and Social Media is where the conversation is taking place.”
Score Card: A+

CONCLUSION

In the days before the Internet, associations were necessary to help members of an industry interact with each other and to represent their common interest to the public and the government. However, with the advent of technology and Social Media, such tasks can be achieved easily without such intermediary and often opinions and information circumvent the associations.

Don’t get me wrong, I think trade associations are needed, but they need to adapt. They need to find ways of brining new benefits to their members and they need to embrace and exploit new ways of doing so. I believe Social Media is a great opportunity to be more involved with the membership and carry-on a true conversation. It can also be used in trade events and associations could do far worst than leading the way in its implementation and teach their members how to do it in turn.

Three “must-do” for industry associations’ websites July 29, 2009

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, eBusiness Applications/Services, FaceBook, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, LinkedIn, Social Media, Twitter.
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3 comments

When it comes to conservatism, control and prudence, very few beat the Aerospace industry. Unfortunately, these virtues indispensable in the field of defying gravity often permeate in business support practices where they quickly become impediments to progress and efficiency. As the business world dramatically changes the way it communicates and collaborates with the advances in Internet bandwidth, technology and tools, the Aerospace industry seems to be on the trailing edge of those innovations. This is particularly noticeable in its public websites (and general Internet presence) as well as those of its associations.

But there are some signs of an awakening. The Oklahoma Aerospace Alliance recently requested feedback about its website via their twitter account (@OKAero) in an attempt to “make it effective for aero pros and the public to get excited about aerospace.” Even though I could have written this review about many websites, I thought they provided a good case study applicable to many others. Simply put, this website is a fantastic example of Web1.0 technology. Unfortunately, the world has evolved to Web2.0.

Here are the three changes that must be implemented to keep up with innovation:

  1. Provide members with the ability to relentlessly interact. The main difference between the old and new way of constructing a website is that the basis for Web2.0 is two-way communication. This should now be the guiding principle for any association: solicit feedback at all times. Every area of the site, from overall design to specific small content, should promote the ability for the readers to “answer back”, provide suggestions, and share with others. The website should also include forums and direct messaging to promote member-to-member interaction. Feedback should be viewable, summarized and influential. However, the association remains in charge. This is not management by committee; it is instead the unabated search for good ideas for the common good of the association’s members. Often there is a fear that public comments would be inappropriate or negative. Knowledge in the 21st century results from a debate of ideas rather than the opinion of a single trusted source. An association can increase its usefulness by providing a platform for such exchange of ideas (positive and negative) while moderating the extremes. However, all comments should always be attributable, focusing the embarrassment and consequences of inappropriateness on the contributor.
  2. Choose the right tools for the right context. Today communication through short videos (2 minutes max) is the most efficient and effective way to share important information. However, there is no need to create a video library on the site. Instead the website should create and link to a YouTube channel. Why recreate the wheel when other sites already have the tools? Generally, services targeted at the general consumer or public are better served by tools like FaceBook (e.g. community involvement, sponsorship). Similarly, employment and business career/advice services can take advantage of LinkedIn. The site should have “cousin” areas in these other networks and provide links back and forth between them. Individual members registering on the site should be encouraged to enter links to other networking site they belong to. The boundaries of the association need not be the limits of the information contained on its own website. As such, the association should provide its own RSS feed for others to aggregate into their own context.
    Members will look to the association for advice on the tools and techniques to use to communicate, engage and collaborate with their customers and suppliers. The association must be a shepherd in this field providing information, case studies, training and brainstorming sessions. In some cases, like secure information sharing or indirect procurement, association-hosted tools could even be provided directly to the members.
  3. Transform the association website into a platform. The association website should be a “mash-up” of content and tools provided by and for the members. The association should be acting as a content cheerleader/care-taker and moderator rather than a content generator. Turning the website into a platform where members can post their own news, events, blogs, WIKI entries or photos will make it the richest possible. The information can then be presented by topic, company, calendar, map, or any other aggregation technique. The idea is not necessarily to provide all the content in one place, but more to link to other content within the context of the association.
    The “build it they will come” mistake should be avoided. The association should take advantage of tools like RSS, Twitter Search and Google Indexing to generate and index content automatically rather than force members to have to post in multiple places. For example, the member’s official website address and twitter account should be collected in their company listing. Then, an aggregated (and archived) Twitter “association stream” can be provided. Also, a capability search would pick up on keywords in the members’ own websites rather than in an always outdated directory.
    For the website to be successful, it must be used regularly. And to be used, it must be active, customizable and innovative. The site should be public but membership must have its privileges. There should be three basic “profiles”: guest (read-only, generic), participant (read-only except for comments/suggestions/polls, customizable view, subscription email alerts), member (content provider, customizable view, dashboard, voting rights). There must also be exclusive content such as executive blogs, video interviews, and online training not found on other sites (but no necessarily generated by the association). All content should be very short and concise at the first level, providing links to deeper content if the reader is interested.

If you want to see a glimpse at excellence in this field, check out FlightGlobal.com. Although not technically an association, they provide mush of the information and online services association members are looking for. Under the enthusiastic leadership of Editor Michael Targett (@flightglobal), they have embraced all of the above principles and have seen a huge jump in on-line readership as a result. Perhaps they will become the Global Aerospace Association of the future?

For more on this subject, check out also the “Social Media Score Card for Top Aerospace Associations”.

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