How Southwest Airlines Uses Twitter!!!!

11 Sep

Southwest Airlines is one of the most prominent brands on Twitter, having over 1.35 million followers. The social media team includes a chief Twitter officer who tracks Twitter comments and monitors a Facebook group, an online representative who fact checks and interacts with bloggers, and another who takes charge of the company’s presence on sites such as YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

The twitter site for Southwest Airlines advises that the airline “will not address specific customer service issues on this site,” but it is a frequent mode by which it finds out about customer concerns, and it does post some more general customer service replies. Example: When user @_MichaelKelley tweeted about a delayed flight, for instance, the company promptly responded, “Southwest Airlines Gate Agents will have the latest info. Sorry for the delay!”

So what’s different with Southwest Airlines? 

  • They have one person manning the tweets, making it a personal experience
  • A majority of the tweets are informative (such as announcing new non-stop flights)
  • The use of photos
  • The share news related to the company, both good and bad.
  • Blogs
  • They also use Twitter to welcome new employees
  • Interspersing personal tweets (such as the Steelers game reference)
  • The use of Twitter for the company’s charitable associations
  • Willingness to directly respond to follower / passenger concerns Example: When Kevin Smith complained that he was kicked off a plane for being too fat, Southwest responded with eight tweets and a blog post. They showed their true colors, admitted fault, and earned admiration for it. Not to mention, the frenzy caused their blog to shut down because it was overloaded with traffic.
  • Personalized Tweets: Southwest Airlines’ Twitter team posts using their initials, whether it’s the company’s Communication Specialist Laurel Moffat or Christi Day McNeill herself.
  • They post exclusive deals and new promotions.  Recently, they posted, “Okay, Denver. Looking for something to do tonight? See our buddy@EricHutchinson! First 3 people who reply with “#LiveAt35 Rocks” win tix!” The winners received in flight tickets to the concert.
  • They also get in touch with “bloggers, brand fanatics, enthusiastic travelers and employees to help contribute content to [the] Twitter.” They host contests as well.

To personalize the Twitter further one-on-one interaction is key. In an interview with Social Media Examiner, McNeill shared a story about a celebrity tweeting a tip about how to get an aisle seat, which the team subsequently retweeted. By sending out personalized tweets and responding quickly to customer issues, as well as apologizing when it makes a mistake, Southwest proves that it is a company made up of humans.

“Allow your employees and allow your company to have a voice and establish that early on in the social media space because authenticity pays off huge in the event of a crisis or issue where you need people to trust your voice in the online space,” said McNeill.

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