As organizations strive to increase brand recognition with their stakeholders they often forget one of their biggest assets – their employees! Well, Southwest Airlines hasn’t forgot. Starting in 2006, Southwest Airlines launched their social media blog campaign, “Nuts about Southwest”. Today, the core blogging team consists of 27 employee bloggers who are from “across a wide range of locations and disciplines who post regularly, and they are backed by an army of other infrequent bloggers from our Employee ranks, our Customers, and our partners.” Now as one of the most strategic airlines utilizing social media, Southwest Airlines has developed a social media strategy that embraces their corporate culture and engages employees to be brand ambassadors. Southwest Airlines Social Media Strategy focuses on:
Southwest Airlines Philosophy:
- To provide Southwest Airlines employees and customers a voice.
- To provide outstanding customer service
- To protect the livelihood of the Southwest brand across all media platforms.
Southwest Airlines Goals:
- Maintain the Southwest Airlines FUN-LUVing personality across all channels.
- Create outstanding multimedia content and distribute to everyone.
- Raise awareness of new products and services.
- Provide critical info to customers and employees in crisis or emergencies.
With over 1.6 million Twitter followers, 4.1 million Facebook fans and over 9 million views on Southwest Airlines YouTube Channel, their social media strategy is soaring to a new altitude. Most recently you may recall seeing the hilarious SWA flight attendant video. The video which has close to 14 million views immediately hit social media and spawned a flurry of media coverage. This three-minute video shot by a customer of an employee or a – brand ambassador – created immediate positive brand recognition for the airline – all at no cost. It highlighted Southwest Airlines FUN-Luving culture and allowed customers to create a connection with employees and the brand.
Lessons for others
In the article, Southwest Airlines and Social Media Strategy: 5 Lessons for Marketers, Mark Ivey points out five takeaways from Southwest Airlines approach to social media that are useful for organizations that are developing or implementing a social media strategy with the objectives of increasing brand recognition, employee engagement and creating relationships with stakeholders. They are as follows:
- They leverage their employees – using their employees as bloggers and brand ambassadors they tap employees’ interests and passion.
- They clearly represent the brand – they are authentic with their posts.
- They employ stories – personal employee stories that create connections with customers.
- They’re lean, efficient, focused – they have a small team who monitor posts with minimal editing to maintain the voice of the blogger.
- They listen – continuously monitor social media channels and are prepared to respond immediately.
Remember, employees can be an organizations biggest asset and when developing a social media strategy make sure it is one that engages employees as brand ambassadors.
Nuts about Southwest – http://www.blogsouthwest.com
Southwest Airlines – Nuts about Online Communications – www.prnewsonline.com/Assets/File/ChristiMcNeill.pdf
Southwest Airlines and Social Media Strategy: 5 Lessons for Marketers – http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/southwest-airlines-strategy/
YouTube Video – Hilarious SWA Flight Attendant – http://youtu.be/07LFBydGjaM
Submitted By: Allison McMahon, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo
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