Southwest Airlines’ Social Media Strategy

HRmarketer will soon be releasing a new eBook (free) titled Conversation Starters: Social Media Marketing in the HR Marketplace. The eBook provides a step-by-step outline on how to leverage social media/networking in your marketing and PR.

We expect the eBook to be released in September. Stay tuned.

As we wait for this eBook I wanted to share an outstanding article I read today from Ragan Communications titled How Southwest juggles social media channels.

The article gives a behind-the-scenes look at Southwest Airlines’ social media strategy—and how its six-person team manages the workload.

It's a remarkable read.

Paula Berg, the airline’s Emerging Media manager says this:
“It’s become a place to make and break news,” she says. “It’s a place to tell the rest of the story when the media doesn’t have the time or space to do it. It’s a virtual focus group. It’s a place to get immediate feedback.”
What a great quote.

The article has a great video of Paula Berg describing the business value of their social media. It's a brilliant case-study on the real value of social networking with respect to SEO and publicity and customer service.

Six ideas Southwest used to emerge as a social media leader:

1. Take advantage of what’s already out there. Blogging, Twittering and maintaining Facebook fan sites are all opportunities to directly reach an audience, says Berg.

2. Spark a discussion. Social media allows companies to engage their customers in dialogues. Use those exchanges as a virtual focus group to gauge the public’s reaction to new developments or find out what they think about your current operations.

3. Divvy up responsibility. Giving individual employees ownership over a particular social media tool gives that tool a consistent voice that its readers can become familiar with. “It makes each channel more personal,” Berg says.

4. Keep your channels distinct. Use the blog to delve into issues, Twitter to break or tease news and Facebook to highlight promotional events. By spreading the content around, it forces your audience to poke around your different outlets rather than focusing on just one.

5. Become an early adopter. Look out for new social media tools and experiment with them when they appear. “When these things are new, expectations are low,” says Berg, “so you can figure out how you want to use [them].”

6. Have fun. “As a team, we’re having so much fun with what we’re doing,” says Berg. “And it shows in the work we’re producing.”

Read the article.