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IABC/OC Southwest Airlines July2009


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Paula Berg\'s slides from the IABC Orange County July 14 Second Tuesday Luncheon.

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IABC/OC Southwest Airlines July2009

  1. 1. Southwest Airlines Nuts About Online Communication
  2. 2. Who remembers Airline?
  3. 3. Nuts About Southwest launched April 2006 Nuts About Southwest was originally launched as a means of giving our Customers a look inside the Culture and operations of Southwest Airlines and allowing them to interact and build personal relationships with our Employees. Now serves as: a virtual focus group a place to make and break news a place to tell the rest of the story an incubator for new ideas a platform for our Employees to share industry knowledge and connect with Customers a resource for SEO - Google Juice In October 2007, our site was named Best Blog for 2008 by PR News.
  4. 4. Ana Schwager Angela Vargo 30+ EMPLOYEE BLOGGERS Ashley Rogers Bert Stevens Nuts About Southwest features more than 30 Employee bloggers that represent a mix Beverly Behrens of Frontline and behind-the-scenes Bill Owen Employees including Mechanics, Customer Service Agents, Schedule Planners, Bob Hurst Executives, Marketing Representatives, Flight Attendants, Pilots, and more. Brian Lusk Carole Adams Each Employee blogger brings to the table a Casey Welch unique voice, perspective, and personality to share with our Customers. Christi Day David Evans, Jr. We know that our People are our greatest Dawn Foster asset. The blog gives our Employees a platform to share their industry knowledge, Edward Shlelswell-White exchange personal stories, and really connect our Customers to the Southwest Fred Taylor Culture we live and experience everyday. Gordon Guillory Hollee Ford Jeff Lamb
  5. 5. Where are our Customers? Not just on our blog. Our Customers are communicating with us through a number of different online channels. Using these tools allow s us to: Stay on top of communication technology Communicate directly with our Customers in the formats they prefer Reach a broader audience
  6. 6. Also active on aviation blogs & forums
  8. 8. Nuts About Southwest 2.0 launched May 2008 Within months of launching the new site: Visits up 25% Page Views up 40% Visitors staying 26% longer In October, our site was named Best Blog for 2008 by PR News (second year in a row).
  9. 9. CASE STUDIES 1. To Assign or Not To Assign 2. A Story with Legs 3. Too Pretty to Fly 4. The FAA Allegations 5. SI One 6. US Airways Hudson River Incident 7. Loves vs. Sucks 8. Twitter, YouTube, Facebook
  10. 10. CASE STUDY: Open Season on Assigned Seating Announced Assigned Seating test with CEO blog post Received 700 comments Most Customers said If it ain t broke, don t fix it, I love your open seating policy, please don t change. Influenced executives and internal debate VIRTUAL FOCUS GROUP
  11. 11. CASE STUDY: A Story with Legs Six months after travel ing with us, story appears in the San Diego Union Tribune and Customer appears on Today Show Blog immediately flooded with comments The GOOD news We were able to gauge public sentiment By posting negative comments , our blog earned credibility The BAD news Missed opportuni ty by not stating our position clearly and presenting the facts as we knew them Let the conversation go on for far to l ong with out participating
  12. 12. CASE STUDY: Too Pretty to Fly Customers denied boarding Claimed it was because of their looks Mainstream media was covering only one side of the story Learned from our previous experience that we needed to communicate directly with our Customers via: 1. Online spokespeople 2. Official Statement 3. YouTube video
  13. 13. RECEIVED TREMENDOUS SUPPORT FROM BLOGGERS 1. Cool a spokesper son who speaks like a person. Go figure Comment by Leviticus 2/25/2008 @ 12:35 pm 2. Thanks for your response, Ms. Berg. I ve posted most of the Southwest stor ies here. I notice them because my West Texas family regularly (and happily) flies Southwest Airlines, so I m interested in what Southwest does. Comment by DRJ 2/25/2008 @ 12:40 pm 3. Ms. Berg, if I weren t already a frequent flyer of Southwest, I would be now simply based on your informative and thoughtful response. Not many companies would take the time, nor feel the need to reassure customers. Kudos. Comment by Dana 2/25/2008 @ 1:17 pm 4. I must admit, I m VERY impressed Someone from SWA coming her to lay out their side? Next time I have a flight to take, I ll have to make sure to make at least part of the trip via your airlines Comment by Scott Jacobs 2/25/2008 @ 10:08 pm 5. I too am impressed by SWA s response. The lawyerly output of most corporations in response to potentially embarrassing events almost universally prevents this kind of interaction. When I say almost always, I think that this is the first and only time I ve been witness to such a response. Amazing. Comment by j.pickens 2/25/2008 @ 10:24 pm 6. Paula, Patterico seems to have turned off trackbacks, but I wanted you to see my reaction to your participation in this comment thread. As someone who has dealt with blogs criticizing my own company, I was impressed with your response. Comment by Doc Rampage 2/26/2008 @ 3:32 am
  14. 14. TOP VIEWED VIDEO Total views: 250,000 #8 most viewed video of the day #32 most discussed video of the day #86 most views of the week With the recent Domino s Pizza incident, the video response has been cited as a great example of a corporate response to an online crisis.
  15. 15. CASE STUDY: FAA Fines SWA For Missed Inspections On March 6, 2008, the FAA levied a $10.2 million fine against Southwest Airlines for alleged missed aircraft inspections, sparking what was arguably the biggest threat to our airline and our reputation in our 37 year history. Over the following eight days, we posted a total of five posts: Title Date Time Comments We Take Safety Seriously March 6, 2008 10:36pm 180 Southwest Airlines CEO Appears on CNN March 7, 2008 11:33am 68 Southwest Airlines Responds To Preliminary Findings of March 11, 2008 3:27pm 73 Internal Investigation Southwest Airlines Continues Internal Audit March 12, 2008 2:12pm 90 ABC s Nightline Features Southwest Airlines March 13, 2008 8:36am 12 The posts generated approximately 450 cumulative comments, the majority of which were negative.
  16. 16. You must need nerves of steel to work in Southwest Airlines Communication department right now. Once you mount the corporate-blogging horse there's no getting off it again. And Southwes t is learning enough about what can then happen to write the ultimate book on the subject. Yesterday they finally decided there was no choice but to temporari ly ground 44 of their Boeing 737s - including 38 taken straight off the line - affected by the safety allegations that have blown up around them. At time of writing they have 17 comments in response to the 260 they received on their earlier posts on the issue. The 17 are mark edly more negative than positive - although the hard core of support is indicative of a degree of loyalty that many other companies would struggle to secure. Obviously this is not going to go away easily. So will Southwest have regrets over the blog? I'm pretty sure that they won't. On balance it's been a great tool for them in this horrendous situation. Most importantly of all, it's let their supporters declare their positive views in public - something that never really happens with conventional media coverage because nobody's out looking for those people. Barring new dev elopments, this may be the nadi r for Southwes t in this saga, now it's going to be interesting to see how they use the blog to repai r the inevitable damage. ----
  17. 17. Bad PR Leaves One Reputati on Grounded Whi le Another One Soars BY Katie Paine In contrast, American Airlines launched its blog, So, when troubles w ith the FAA but it is clearly designed began, information was quickly to make sure that their posted on the blog, and all of side of the story got out Southw est founder Herb there, and therein lies the Kelleher s statement to difference. Southw est Congress was made available wanted to hear w hat its there as well. Customers customers had to say, weighed in and many of them American w anted to tell were not happy with the its side of the story. situation but it was all out there for the world to see.
  18. 18. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Ø Southwest + Hawaii: When Aloha Airlines closed its doors, the number of online searches for Southwest and Hawaii spiked as Customers scrambled to rebook their Hawaii OUR BLOG CONTENT IS INCREASING OUR travel and seek some reassurances for future travel. Southwest was prepared with an ONLINE SEARCHABI LITY (aka Google Juice ) informative post from Schedule Planner Bill Owen. The post received more than 10,000 views, helped us capture and address By providing timely and relevant content Customer concerns, and continues to serve as an "expert resource" for journalist seeking particularly around HOT issues we are able information on the subject. to: Ø Southwest + Baggage: With the recent 1. Influence search changes to industry baggage policies and the addition of unwelcome fees, sear ches for 2. Draw readers to our sight Southwest Baggage, Southwest Baggage 3. Lead discussions restrictions, and the like have increased. As a result, our baggage posts conti nue to be among the top-viewed content on the site even entries and videos that were posted last year allowing us to further reinforce our points-of-difference messages with unique/visual content.
  19. 19. Twitter
  20. 20. Twitter-mania Twitter is changing the face of communicat ion Ø Southwest has been a member since July 07 Ø We currently have >200,000 followers Ø 58 percent increase in 1Q09. PC Mag listed Southwest Airlines among 10 Corporate Twitter Accounts Worth Following. According to's Top 40 list of Twitter brands, SWA is recognized for its ability to use the tool to communicate with its audience and disseminate information.
  21. 21. Twitter-mania Within 10 minutes of the aircraft touching the water, a witness generated photo and headline was circulating on Twitter Case Study: US Airways Incident 3:26 Incident occurs 3:36 10 minutes later, a passenger on the rescue ferry Twitters from his iPhone the first known photo of the incident. 34 minutes later, MSNBC interviews him as a witness. 3:36 posts its first thread on incident 3:41 posts its first thread on the incident 3:46 Airline Pilots Central Forum posts its first thread on the incident 3:49 W SJ Blog posts its first story: US Airways Plane Crashes in New York s Hudson River 3:52 A W SJ e-mail alert is issued to subscribers 4:00 Story appears on Google News 4:03 AP story begins to appears on blogs and websites 4:04 First person to Tweet the story is interviewed on MSNBC as witness 4:12 US Airways issues 1st statement 4:15 9 of the 10 most discussed topics on Twitter are about the incident 4:30 @SouthwestAir (Southwest s Twitter profile) posts the following message: Our friends @USAir and their Customers are in our thoughts this afternoon 4:34 Someone Tweets that W ikipedia has an entry on the crash before any information is available on 4:40 Twitterers are anticipating the US Airways Press Conference 4:49 US Airways issues 2nd statement 4:56 Someone creates a Twitter profile titled @Hudsoncrash to share news 4:59 @SkyTalk (The Star-Telegram Twitter profile) Tweets the link to the flight log @jkrums There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm 5:00 USAirways creates its first Twitter account (@USAirways) on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy. 5:20 People begin following the newly created US Airways twitter account. They currently have 217 followers. At the time, we had 8,500 followers.
  22. 22. CASE STUDY: LOVES v. SUCKS Just for fun, we us ed the keywords Southwest Airlines , Love or LUV , and Sucks or Sux to determi ne the percentages of tweets expressing like and dislike for Southwes t Airlines. While this doesn t capture the complete sentiment of our Customers, it is a snapshot of the general tone of Tweets we receive daily. We focus the majority of our energy on the positive by engaging and building relationships with Customers. We also monitor negative conversations and engage when appropriate.
  23. 23. + = The Rapping Flight Attendant has appeared on Leno, Oprah, and numerous other TV and radio programs .
  24. 24. CASE STUDY: EVOLUT ION OF A YOUTUBE VIDEO (not the Rapping Flight Attendant) not JANUARY 2009 - Video of Flight Attendant singing is loaded onto YouTube. For three months, the vi deo sits on YouTube with little traction. MARCH 2009 Our Rapping Flight Attendant hits the scene, sending Customers searching for SWA Inflight entertainment online. After Customers watch the video of the Rapping Flight Attendant, many continue to search for similar material. APRIL 2009 Our singing Flight Attendant is among our top viewed videos with nearly 100,000 views!
  25. 25. CASE STUDY: THE NEW FACE OF FACEBOOK Challenge: In 1Q Facebook redesigned their platform, opening the door for more engagement and personal interaction with Fans via real-time status updates. Response: We began updating our status regularly with a mix of Marketing messages, news updates, SWA FUN, and operational updates. Results: Facebook users were initially surprised - and some annoyed with the change. Our numbers waivered as we boiled down to the brand champions that wanted to receive our messages. Initial loss of followers has now been replaced with growing audience approximately 100 new Fans join our Facebook group each day.
  26. 26. Measurement Trying to make sense of it all l Every Day, Week, Month, Quarter, Year l Reading between the numbers to tell the story l Capturing the ah-ha moments Quarterly Reporting l Numbers l 2-3 Case Studies ROI l Cost can be small l Take baby steps l What s the cost of not participating
  27. 27. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IS TAKING OVER THE INTERNET - PRWeek recently recognized Southwest airlines among five companies that get social media. For the second year in a row, Nuts About Southwest was named Best Blog by PR News.
  28. 28. Our Emerging Media Team Formed in Fall 2008 7 person team Together, we have more than 60 years of Southwest Airlines experience in the fields of Ramp, Reservations, Provisioning, Inflight, Customer Service, Customer Relations, Employee Communication, Public Relations, Executive Communication, Technology and Emerging Media.
  29. 29. TAKE AWAYS 1. Establish channels bef ore a crisis Dabble: Blogs, YouTube, Facebook Don t rely on the numbers Build Relationships 2. Don t be afraid to join the conversat ion Be gracious, be honest, be real Speak the language of your audience Have a thick skin 3. Act fast Doesn t have to be perfect Set the tone for the conversation Harder to repair a damaged reputation than maintain a good one 4. Build a strong team Social media takes time, passion, and guts Need executive sponsor Look outside of your department for help
  30. 30. ARE YOU NUTS? Visit Nuts About Southwest www.blogsouthw Paula.Berg@w @paulaberg @southw estair
  31. 31. LIFT - om/watch?v=ZqSwxzdAKHs Too Pretty to Fl y - om/watch?v=Td5O32aXZaY Rapping Flight Attendant - om/watch?v=ivjybzdXVmI Dominos - network_1030pm -nightline_damage-control.wmv My Old Man in Mx - om/watch?v=IpOSW n4Hpmg Emerging Media Team - om/watch?v=6T3- cVkRDSQ&feature=c hannel_page