NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A new survey contends that American (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report is the top U.S. airline when it comes to social media, topping the industry in both Facebook (FB) - Get Facebook, Inc. Class A Report and Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report usage.
United (UAL) - Get United Airlines Holdings, Inc. Report, meanwhile, is good at Twitter, where it ranks second, but doesn't even make the top 10 in Facebook usage. Delta (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines, Inc. Report is third at Facebook and sixth at Twitter.
The survey, by Toronto-based Engagement Labs, seeks to measure the social presence of brands on networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
On Facebook, American "not only provides company information, it also posts about worldwide news and events and relates it back to the airline industry," Engagement Labs said. "For example, to celebrate Women's History Month, they asked followers to share stories about female American Airlines members who have shown great customer service.
"American Airlines uses Twitter to help create a dialogue with their followers by responding to consumer postings," Engagement Labs said. "They engage their followers by using topical news and events such as #TheDress and #Selma50, thereby resulting in a natural conversation,"
As for United, on Facebook "they have a lot of followers, but they really under-index on engagement with customers," said Bryan Segal, CEO of Engagement Labs. "That said, their responsiveness score was higher than the group average. "
As an example of insufficient engagement, Segal suggested that a carrier "might not post high quality articles or photos or news clips, or they didn't engage much with fans." He said the survey measured response quality, quantity and timeliness.
At the same time, "United ranked high on Twitter, where their focus is," Segal said. "That doesn't mean United does a bad job on social. They just put a lot of horses in Twitter."
Ranked in order for Facebook use were American, Island Air, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian (HA) - Get Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. Report, Sun Country, Southwest (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report, Alaska (ALK) - Get Alaska Air Group, Inc. Report, JetBlue (JBLU) - Get JetBlue Airways Corporation Report and Allegiant (ALGT) - Get Allegiant Travel Company Report. Ranked in order for Twitter use were American, United, Alaska, Sun Country, Allegiant, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier and Virgin America (VA) .
Engagement Labs is "similar to Nielson -- we do the same for social media," Segal said. The publicly held firm measures engagement and participation by analyzing a brand's every interaction on Facebook, Twitter and UTube using over 300 measures of promptness, words used, punctuation and other characteristics.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.