As much as I love to explore the wide open road and anything travel related, I felt that it was appropriate to look into the social media efforts of those who travel best – airlines. Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines are two of the top competitors in the air travel industry.
Delta Airlines first dabbled into the social media world around 2009. This immersion came as a result of other airlines focusing on Facebook and Twitter as apart of their marketing campaigns. In an interview with Splash Media a spokesperson for Delta Airlines social media team Susan Elliott stated that
“We decided our first entry would be in the customer support area; When we launched, we started listening to see what was out there and we quickly realized that people were talking about us but not to us. We realized we had an opportunity to change people’s attitudes about the travel experience and help support them throughout the experience.”
While utilizing social media as a marketing platform for their campaigns, Delta also took advantage of using it as a means of talking to and supporting their customers. They added their third Twitter feed @DeltaAssist in an effort to solely talk to and listen to their customers. This feed is monitored in real time, and is now operating 24/7.
SouthWest Airlines took their plunge in social media around 2006. Currently they are on top of the list with successful social media strategies coming in with 12 million monthly visits to its website, 1 million Twitter followers, and 1.3 million Facebook likes. In an article on Social Media Explorer, Mark Ivey listed the top five lessons that all marketers should learn from SouthWest Airlines:
- They leverage their employees: The Nuts About Southwest blog is mostly the result of employee posts-writing about their life at SW, issues, people, etc.
- They clearly represent the brand: At times the blog has a bit of a rah-rah cheerleader feel, but SW is a vibrant, people-oriented brand-and that’s what they’re reflecting.
- They employ stories: Personal and business stories are far more memorable than facts, and few blogs utilize them well.
- They’re lean, efficient, focused: They operate from a web COE (center of excellence) model with Christi’s group enabling social media activities across SW.
- They listen: SW was dinged back in early 2010 when the airline kicked off an overweight passenger who didn’t fit in the seat. Turns out he was a budding filmmaker with a large Twitter following, and promptly started blasting SW. SW’s communications team immediately responded with tweets and phone calls to see what they could do to rectify the situation, winning a “commendable” nod from Mashable.