BlueNity : a well conceived social network with a value for both clients and company

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I was about to write some new posts about anti-crisis logics that could be 2.0 mind and practices driven but current affairs took me to spoil the charm of the topic, introducing BlueNity, the new Air France-KLM social network. Of course, this is not designed to be an anti-crisis weapon since de decision has to made months ago. But, happily, it may be a part of strategy a company could use in response to these times of economic breakdown : keeping the relationship with current and potential clients while the trend is more about cuts in communication bugdets. This may not be the original purpose but this platform, if it keeps its promises, may be more useful than they thought.

Before reading my own analysis, french reading people may have a look at this exhaustive look-around by Jean-Michel Billaut.

In the current context, businesses have still to communicate toward their clients, develop the attachement to the brand, deliver the best service possible. It’s also true toward non clients in order to try to attract them. and the whole in a context of costs reduction.

That’s why Air France is doing with a plateform that help them being present in their client’s day to day life, but also to involve every person who want to share his travel tips ans tricks even if he’s not an AF customer.

As they say, they’re not looking for a classical ROI but try to develop the “brand affinity”. But the ROI is not hard to find : what’s the purpose of affinity if it’s not developping customer loyalty, making people have the idea of a travel and build an “Air France Reflex” when they will need to book a flight ?

What is the value of BlueNity compared, for instance, to TripAdvisor ? I’m an Air France Frequent Flyer so I feel closer to this community since I’m “de facto” a part of it and its members take the same flight as I do. Another point : the fact I can know who’ll take the flight I’ll take for my next vacations may be either useful or nice. Knowing I’ll meet a friend or a business realtion. Knowing that another passenger is interested in enterprise 2.0 because I can see the link to his linkedin profile and he tagged his professional concerns. Perhaps this kind of people will propose me to have a drink at the lounge before boarding. Who knows…

Saying that, the private / professional est well managed. I have two profiles and I decide which of my contacts or flight passengers can see one or the other. Perhaps I’d like to meet people who have the same professional interests, but I may want to forget about business and meet people who have the same hobbies. All of that is perfectly watertight and many social netwoks should be inspired by that. Ok, you could tell I only fly on AF, that I’m an “Elite +” passenger etc… But Air France KLM carries 75 millions passenger a year, 15 millions of them are members of their fidelity program…just imagine the potential. Always according to the company, 30% of their passengers are 2.0 minded. If 1/3 of them play the game there’s a mean to make something really valuable.

Another good point : delivering any service has a real costs in terms of ressources. A social network that relies on something real, whith people who really share something is the place where many ideas, suggestions, experiences may be shared for everybody’s benefit. BlueNity allows its members to auto deliver such services to themselves without any need for Air France to take care of each of them individually. I also like the ability people have to plan things together on the platform in order to organize their trip (share a car, a taxi…)

Most of all : the service could also be used by non customers without any extra cost for the company since it’s already open for its members, a good way to get the involved with the brand. So AF can get in touch with potential customers for not an extra dollar, an that’s a great ROI : the smallest the I is the bigger the R can be.

So there’s only one condition in order bluenity becomes a success for both AF and its users : the community must live. But since people who travel are usually poeople who like to share their travel experience I have no doubt about that.

So I’m looking forward to seing what will happen next…

A few ideas by the way :

• Why don’t link even more the “membership” with real life. A bluenity meeting point in the airport, at the lounge ? An “Elite Flyers” group on bluenity ? “Bluenity leadership” as a criteria for upgrades ? Whatever : online communities need “IRL realities” to be really successful.

•Reward participation with (qualifying) miles ?

• Rather tha uploading pictures, I’d like to link to my flick albums to share travel photos.

• I’d also like to make more links in my business profile. I linked to my Linkedin profile but I’d also like to link to my blog.

• Something special for those who often take the same domestic flights at the same hours on the same days. I’ve been a part of those people for years, seing the same people in the plane every monday and every friday, 52 weeks a year. Maybe something can be found here…

• Nothing to do with the topic but…I’d like inflight Wifi. I don’t care when I’m in business class since I can stretch my (long) legs, but in economy it would be perfect for my next Paris-Mexico in december.

In conclusion, a good exmaple of a social network with a real business purpose and impact. 2.0 initiatives for clients have too often been restricted to PR, here I can see a real and valuable service.