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Twitter the right way

September 14, 2010

Social Media has opened up a new window of opportunity for consumers to communicate with their favorite companies. And vise verse, companies too can communicate with their followers. However, if you are not seeing and responding to the conversations your consumers are having, then social media will turn into your worst enemy. Thankfully some companies are doing it right. This is the case for @SouthwestAir, who had an unhappy customer on their flight and used Twitter to express his anger, and Southwest responded tweeted back. I am only discussing the need for companies to manage their social media and carry these two-way conversations with their followers. I will not discuss the content of their response, or timing in regards to their twitter crisis.

Southwest Airline's Twitter account.

Earlier this year, film director, Kevin Smith or @ThatKevinSmith was on a Southwest Airlines flight were he was asked to get off the plane due to his weight. A Southwest Airlines “customers of size” policy has been in place for 25 years. And in this case, it was put into action. Smith was not happy about it and went on a twitter frenzy tweeting “Dear @SouthwestAir I know I’m fat, but was the captain really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?” Southwest tweeted back and apologized many times, and offered a $100 coupon, as they would to any other regular customer, that Smith refused to accept.

Southwest is using social media, their Twitter account, the right way. By keeping up with their followers and responding to their comments. They are engaging in two-way conversations and that is, essentially, what social media is for. If comments like Smith’s were ignored, then his 1.6 million followers would have agreed with Smith, but since Southwest replied and attempted to resolve the problem, they now have two sides to the story and can asses the situations themselves.

Costumers need to know that companies are listening and care about their opinions, and what better way to do this than through social media. Some would say that social media is allowing negative voices to be more publicized. True, but if you respond, you have a chance to change the negative voice into a positive one. It’s better to be proactive than to do nothing at all. In this scenario Southwest Airlines replied and came out strong. Whether it was the right reply, or the timeliest one? That’s another argument we can talk about later.

So remember, engage and response to your followers.

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