Three feet, wingtip to wingtip.
That’s how close the Phillips 66 Aerostars’ Extra 300 aircraft flew to each other at about 6,000 feet over Appleton, Wisconsin. So close, I could wave to the YouTuber to my right and the photo editor on my left.
As a social media strategist at Gravity, I dig into what makes followers comment, like and share our clients’ content – whether it’s for a Southern California hospitality and tourism brand or aviation fuel.
That often means being the boots on the ground (or flying upside down!) to support our clients with social media engagement and messaging that has long-lasting value.
Every year Phillips 66 Aviation® – an aviation fuel brand that’s a major contract jet and avgas fuel supplier to private, commercial and military aviation – attends one of the biggest annual aviation celebrations in the world, EAA AirVenture.
For more than 50 years, thousands and thousands of aviation enthusiasts and pilots fly into Oshkosh, Wisconsin, every July to mingle with vendors like Phillips 66, watch airshows that defy the laws of physics and learn more about aviation innovations. The aviation community on social media is huge; there are more than 2.9 million uses of the hashtag #aviationphotography on Instagram and more than 7 million people who label posts with #avgeek (aviation geek).
For this year’s AirVenture, the Gravity public relations and social media teams wanted to leverage a hidden opportunity and tap into the niche passions of aviation media and social media influencers to show – not tell – how Phillips 66 continues to be a leader in aviation. The team used social listening to reach out to key influencers and media to offer a unique aerobatic flight with the Phillips 66 Aerostars, an aerobatics team of four experienced pilots sponsored by Phillips 66 Lubricants.
While we didn’t require or pay any of our influencers or media to mention the Phillips 66 Aviation or Phillips 66 Lubricants brands, they were eager to share their experiences and give praise. With the help of our copy suggestions and background information, the aviation journalists and influencers tweeted, posted Instagram Stories and wrote gushing articles. We provided a content-rich experience – as well as GoPro footage of them flipping upside down in formation loop and barrel roll moves – that they couldn’t NOT share with their readers and followers.
The result of our PR and social media efforts? More than 208,000 earned social media impressions and 9 million total media impressions related to the aerobatic rides, as well as other Phillips 66-related events during AirVenture, without paying a dime for placement.
An Instagrammer said she owed her colleague a kidney for getting her on the media flight. One social media influencer celebrated his 22nd birthday on the morning of his ride, later posting that Phillips 66 Aviation “keeps my passion for aviation burning.”
I think the AirVenture regular and aviation journalist who called his morning ride “by far my wildest ‘Oshkosh moment’ ever,” put it best: “They are delivering the right message at the right time, to the right demographic, the next generation of aviation professionals.”