Laurel Moffat, who is a Communication Specialist at Southwest Airlines, has made a presentation about the company’s successful social media strategy at a January 25 Kansas City American Marketing Association lunch event. The presentation gave great insight into social media and what to think about when dealing with this – to inspiration for both small and larger organizations.
Here, we will share some of her advice with you:
Listen to your audience – and personalize
Here, Laurel is referring to how important it is to listen to what is being said about you and your company out there, because this can provide insight into which content that is meaningful and appropriate for your audience. Once you get active, it’s important to personalize audience experiences. For example, Southwest Airlines do the following:
– Team members handling Facebook activity sign their names to their responses.
– Southwest tries to share “real” content on topics customers are thinking about relative to flying.
– It encourages localization with 20 local station Facebook pages covering specific Southwest airport operations groups.
Social media requires people and time
Southwest Airlines is huge online – and to take care of that amount of activity, the company has a media group of five people. Their presence is monitored all day. From this, it is obvious that it does take both several people and an amount of time in order to maintain a social media effort. However, when running a smaller company, it is of course not as comprehensive. It’s a matter of keeping up with a thorough plan and strategy, so each individual is aware of their specific role.
Great opportunities in a collaborative social media strategy
Considering all the content Southwest Airlines create to maintain its presence, a collaborative approach is vital for the company. And here are some elements that can be inspiring for everyone else dealing with social media:
– There’s internal collaboration: marketing creates the feel for its social media channels, and the communications team (through its emerging media group) drives content. The legal and investor relations departments are also closely involved.
– All emerging media team employees complete customer service training to ensure they are well-prepared to address customer questions and issues directly and expeditiously.
– Southwest reaches out specifically to influencers: travel bloggers, brand fanatics, avid travelers, and importantly, employees all contribute content.
– To increase broader employee involvement, Southwest Airlines also organized an internal social media conference (BlogCon) in January 2011 to bring employee contributors into Dallas for overviews and training on social media and content creation.
Nobody knows what will happen for sure
– Southwest Airlines has been in social media since 2006, when it launched its blog.
– The company create a presence on both Twitter and Facebook in 2007.
– Southwest Airlines has an award-winning, significant presence.
Considering that Southwest Airlines has experimented with social media during several years, things can still come as a surprise to them. For example, the company is surprised by what videos on its YouTube site that obtains the most views. This can be comforting for businesses to know as it shows that all companies – big or small – that seem experienced with social media can be left guessing and not necessarily see the specific effects on beforehand.
Social media does not get you out of trouble
– Southwest Airlines is a strong brand.
– It got into social media before it had everything figured out.
– It’s had a few stumbles along the way, but it sees clear positives and high regard for its effort.
Before getting into social media, Southwest Airlines was already an established brand. If it had not had that reputation, getting into social media and not knowing what to do exactly could have caused some damage. This leads to the fact that all companies establishing a presence on social media needs to be sure that there are no potential problems facing the brand. Have these under control – and then always: make a plan!