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Use Twitter to Soar

Posted At: October 16, 2013 1:55 p.m.
by Karly Weigel

Airline businesses should not only be worried about flights. Now, airline companies spend a great deal of time to keep a positive presence on social media. Hiring staff to manage social media platforms is relatively new to the airline industry, but this trend cannot be ignored.

Southwest Airlines is one of the front runners in Twitter use by airline companies. Southwest tackles problems and responds to positive tweets regularly since launching its Twitter handle in 2007.

A recent PR Daily article explained that Southwest is willing to respond to average users. Many of these accounts have less than 1,000 followers. More than 75 percent of the tweets directed at Southwest are positive about the brand.

Not only is Southwest engaging its Twitter base, but it is also allowing its frequent flyers and those who have a passion for Southwest to express their love for the company.

Creating lasting relationships on social media is beneficial for both the company and the customer. Some customers will tweet @SouthwestAir to say hello or check on an arrival gate. The small replies from Southwest make all the difference in customers’ perception of the airline.

A 2012 Contently article admired Southwest’s pride in having humans behind a computer screen as opposed to an automatic reply to both negative and positive feedback. Southwest staff members understand how to manage the company’s image and respond to happy individuals, while acknowledging and remedying situations with disgruntled customers.

Southwest Airlines may have the right idea, but British Airways recently came under fire by one upset Twitter follower.

A Mashable article outlined how Hasan Syed decided to take on British Airways when the company lost his father’s luggage. After being ignored originally, he took to Twitter and paid to promote his own tweet. Some say Syed spent more than $1,000 to promote his tweet and received more than 25,000 views in exchange. Even though the cost seems significant on a social media platform, his efforts may be changing the face of customer service.

efe34340-b6b5-4f67-92d5-127522ee0a06_Screen-Shot-2013-09-03-at-10-53-09-AMLost baggage can lead to frustration, and Syed decided to take matters into his own hands when he was ignored. Airline companies need to constantly manage their online reputations, or situations like the promoted tweet will become more common and hurt businesses in the long run.

Southwest and British Airways have experienced the power of Twitter, and each company has decided to either embrace what people have to say or turn a blind eye. Social media is here to stay, and airline companies need to be aware of the repercussions when they ignore what is being said about their brands.

Airline companies can’t be just concerned with flying anymore. Responding to what your customers say, both positive and negative on sites like Twitter, can mean all the difference to your brand. Happy flying (and tweeting)!


  1. Post comment

    A well written article on a trending topic of the development of customer relations through social media outlets. I enjoyed reading about how Southwest Airlines is using Twitter to interact with its customers and frequent flyers. Then seeing how a disgruntled British Airways customer used Twitter to lash out his frustrations and how that affected the airline. However, I would have appreciated information about an airline that is not using Twitter as frequently as Southwest. It is apparent that Southwest believes strongly in their strategy to use Twitter to communicate, how about some information about an airline on the other end of that spectrum.

  2. Post comment

    Karly, I feel the topic you chose did not really appeal to much of an audience. It doesn’t seem like an important subject that people can get into. It was well written, easy to read. I like how you showed someone’s Twitter post in your blog. But I think you should’ve written about more of the negative and positive effects of Twitter on airlines. This generation is so focus on social media as a form of communication. They might not realize what impact they have on a company.

  3. Post comment

    This is a very well written blog post, Karly. The topic you chose is very interesting and timely. However, I think the article should focus more on the evolution of customer service rather than comparing the significance of “flying” and “tweeting.” In my opinion the two do not go hand-in-hand. The importance of flights has not changed because of social media but customer satisfaction has changed. This post does a fantastic job of emphasizing the repercussions of positive and negative social media. I think specifying airline social media was a wise decision. Social media has changed a large portion of the corporate world, which makes bringing awareness to the efforts airlines are making extremely important.


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