SINGAPORE—Singapore Airlines (SIA) is mulling the hire of a dedicated social media agency, as it attempts to shake up a digital marketing approach that has underwhelmed observers.

The airline began the social media agency tender earlier this year, after finally launching on Facebook and Twitter in 2011 and YouTube in 2012.

The brief, which is global in scope, calls for an agency to help oversee SIA's social media strategy, which is currently handled in-house. The airline is aiming to boost its share of voice on social media channels; drive customer loyalty and advocacy; and improve customer acquisition.

The assignment comes as SIA also reviews digital duties for its website, previously handled by SapientNitro. The airline's 2011 web relaunch attracted plenty of criticism, which continues to colour perceptions of SIA's digital marketing capabilities.

"They got a lot of flak for being late to launch [in social media], but also because of their website revamp fiasco – a sore point that lingers even until this day," said one agency source familiar with the situation.  

SIA public affairs VP Nicholas Ionides, who admitted in a 2011 interview with the Holmes Report that social media represented a cultural change for the company, confirmed that the two reviews are separate and ongoing.

Regarding the social media search, he said that "we have been evaluating the appointment of an agency to assist us with content creation for social media, and a decision will be made in due course."

It is understood that a number of firms responded to the social media brief, before around seven were shortlisted to pitch. Presentations took place at the start of summer, but a final decision remains pending.

Specific social media activities that the assignment would involve include regular reviews of SIA's social media presence; content strategy and development; and, analysis and monitoring.

The agency would also be expected to support social media integration with SIA's broader brand marketing activities. The airline recently launched a $5m branding campaign that focuses on customer service.

An agency source described SIA's social media presence as "under-represented and under-leveraged". SIA's low-cost Scoot subsidiary, for example,  outperforms its parent airline on Facebook. 

Many of SIA's rivals, meanwhile, have moved much more quickly to develop strong social media platforms. "They know they’re late, that they’re behind the industry and that customers expect more from them," added the source.

In addition to Singapore, key markets include Australia, China, Indonesia, India, Germany, France, the UK and USA.