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Posted on 07.01.2011

Not Everybody's Celebrating Social Media Day

Yesterday was Social Media Day, and it really got me thinking… What makes a brand’s social media marketing efforts memorable? Is a flashy campaign always necessary, or does it just boil down to constant and authentic interactions with customers? And is there such thing as “too much” interaction? With all the traveling I've done last month, I couldn’t help but notice Southwest’s heavily reliance and involvement in social media. But according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Southwest may be taking its involvement too far. From the beginning of their social media efforts in 2006, Southwest Airlines has been continually taking steps in the right direction and setting the bar high. Their blog and Facebook feature frequent posts from employees on everything from mid-flight musicals by attendants to funny employee photos circa 1975. Southwest’s employees are clearly involved and passionate when it comes to social media, and with over 1.6 million Facebook fans, it shows. Southwest takes full advantage of their strong online presence by connecting with customers in an attempt to respond to complaints in real time, even though the U.S. Department of Transportation says if airline companies reply to one complaint online, they need to reply to all. According to the Code of Federal Regulations, an airline must state that it will respond to all customer complaints through a particular social medium or the airline must  direct all complaints to a designated mailing address or website.  But although Southwest’s Twitter and Facebook pages prominently display the required message, “We will not address specific customer service issues here,” that’s clearly not the case. Take a ride down Southwest’s Twitter stream and you’ll see numerous instances where they have responded within minutes to positive and, more importantly, negative customer feedback. Maybe this explains why Southwest has 1.2 million Twitter followers, compared to Delta and American Air, with just over 200,000 each. So take away the glitz and glamour of a flashy marketing campaign.  It seems to me that a good social media strategy comes down to constant and authentic interaction with customers. Oh, and having a little fun in the process never hurt either! What’s your take on this? Should airlines be permitted to pick and choose the “tweets” they follow up on?

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