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SouthWest Airlines Social Media Case Study

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					Case Study

Southwest Airlines


If you follow Southwest Airlines on Twitter, you’ll never be bored.
In fact, if you were paying attention in 2009, you might have run
across a video of a rapping flight attendant in addition to your
typical updates about routes and flight information. It’s just not your
everyday corporate Twitter account.

That’s because Southwest – led by Christi Day and Paula Berg of the corporate communications
team – has been paying careful attention to how their customers interact with and respond to them
online, and they’ve decided that being fun and personable (in addition to helpful and informative) is
what their customers want from them.

On a given day, Christi uses Twitter to share news and information about Southwest, inform their
customers of flight delays or weather issues, and route potential customer service inquiries to
appropriate internal team members so they can assist.

Southwest also has a popular blog, Nuts about Southwest, that chronicles their adventures in the
world of aviation. There, fans and customers can find anything from information and news about
the airline to videos, photos, and polls. To tap their community, Southwest used their blog as a sort
of informal focus group to ask their customers what they thought about assigned seating. Their
feedback – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – helped influence the business decision the company made
to maintain their first come, first served seating policy.

Listening plays a role for Southwest in all of their social communications. It helps them build
relationships in the blogosphere, get feedback on the content they’re posting on their site, and pay
attention to emerging customer service issues that might require attention.

The rapping flight attendant got traction in the mainstream media, but only after Southwest was
paying attention on Twitter when the video was tweeted by one of their customers after he filmed it
on a flight. Day retweeted the link and mentioned it to a local journalist in a subsequent phone call.
From there, the video and the fun, feel-good story got picked up everywhere from the web to the
Wall Street Journal.


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Case Study   | Southwest Airlines




Monitoring their brand in social media has been important to addressing potentially harmful
feedback, too. A dustup involving two passengers claiming Southwest discriminated against them
for being too pretty was addressed head on by the airline.

They responded to the criticism directly based on the sentiments they were seeing from customers,
filming a video response from their spokesperson and posting it on their site for their customers
to see. As a result, media outlets used their video as a statement piece about the incident, and
potentially negative press turned into favorable response from their community for how directly and
professionally they addressed the issue.

Had they not been carefully monitoring and listening to what was being said about their brand across
the web, Southwest might have missed valuable opportunities to connect with their customers.

Southwest has embraced the power of social media to give their customers access to what’s
happening behind the scenes at the airline, and hear what they have to say about their experiences
with the company. They’re proof positive that listening, engaging, and embracing communication
with your customers is a key to building long-term brand awareness, loyalty, and even a bit of fun.

Do you have a story for us about how your company has embraced the practice of listening and
engagement? Know of a company that’s doing this really well? Let us know. We’d love to hear from
you!




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