Just a glance at their numbers and it’s undeniable: Southwest Airlines is a good brand. One of the first companies to start using Twitter to engage with customers and answer their questions, the Dallas-based airline has reached a following of over 1 million on Twitter. They recently hit the 3 million mark for fans on Facebook. Southwest was the first airline (and one of the first Fortune 500 companies) to begin blogging way back in 2006, when they launched the Nuts About Southwest blog. One of the first companies to start using Twitter to engage with customers and answer questions, @SouthwestAir now ranks among the top ten brands on Twitter for influence with customers.
You can tell that Southwest has it figured out by looking at the results.
The company is plugged into social media platforms and providing relevant tweets and posts about inclement weather, flight schedules, and special discounts as well as rapidly addressing customer complaints and praise alike. Southwest's success in marketing through its social media channels provides an inductive look into an effective customer a response strategy.
The airline’s social media specialist Christi McNeill summarized Southwest’s goals in three simple points: Provide outstanding customer service. Show a unique, fun personality. Provide relevant information to our customers on the platform that they prefer to get it.
Aside from their 1 million Twitter followers and 3 million Facebook likes, the airline boasts overs 30,000 reviews on Travel Guide and ith 12 million monthly visits to its website. So how does an operation as enormous as Southwest handle social media? Through collaborative effort.
“Social media is a company wide initiative,” McNeill says. “We use radian6, tweetdeck, nothing too fancy. It's really about communicating well with your peers.”
They operate from a web “Center of Excellence” model with McNeill’s team of five enabling social media activities across Southwest. Each department brings its own area of expertise to the process of monitoring and responding to customer engagement online. While the communications department generates content and keeps tabs on the success of messaging and engagement, the advertising department hones in on the success of fare sales and other revenue-generating opportunities. Customer relations representatives handle the successful resolution of customer complaints and the legal and investor relations departments are also closely involved.
Southwest is an enormous company that knows how to connect with their customers effectively. They are able to create and maintain a vibrant online presence because they first established a formal response strategy that works. If the numbers don’t speak for themselves, just ask their most loyal customers.
Author: Lane Jones is our Fall Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.