Companies are no longer in control. This idea is very frightening for companies who are used to traditional marketing campaigns and research. Through the use of social media, consumers can promote or damage the reputation of businesses. It has become the company’s job to listen and engage consumers to maintain credibility and authenticity.
The groundswell is the social phenomenon of individuals and communities gaining power using technology. People are using Twitter, blogs and YouTube to spread messages and experiences with each other. Viral marketing creates an impact through conversations with peers. Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, vice presidents for Forester Research, promote the idea of working with the groundswell to improve the reputation and credibility of their company.
Many companies have determined that consumers have great power over their brand and are engaging consumers through social media, especially blogs and Twitter. In earlier posts, I described several examples of companies working with the groundswell to improve their brand image through conversation and interactivity.
Southwest Airlines is a company that exemplifies the use of social media to engage with consumers.
“Nuts about Southwest,” is complete with a blog, video blog, Flikr group, polls, news, and a media center. The media center includes a video gallery, image gallery, and Red Belly Radio, a podcast. Each section of the media center is RSS feed enabled and favorite feeds are available once you log in.
To actively participate on “Nuts about Southwest,” a user account must be created, but everything can be read or heard without logging in to the site. Each blog post is identified by author and their job position. Employees, as well the CEO, engage in updates on the podcast, blogs and video blogs.
At the bottom of the homepage screen, there are links to YouTube, Flikr, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Southwest has created a good reputation on Twitter. With 18,364 followers, Twitter is an excellent way to communicate with their audience providing customer support, weather updates, boarding information and links to the other social media tools such as the video blog. In the blog, Read,Write,Web, Sarah Perez cites user experiences with twittering Southwest and the favorable and quick responses that were received.
In the video below, Paula Berg, manager of emerging media at Southwest Airlines discusses their performance in social media. Look for how Southwest Airlines used customer feedback on their blog and how they are using Twitter. Also, be sure to notice why there is only one Twitter manager.
Other companies and organizations should look to Southwest as a model who actively engages the consumers to provide information and customer service using social media. Southwest has many diverse options available to engage consumers effectively online. Southwest has done a good job improving its’ reputation by working with social media demonstrating trustworthiness and credibility through interactivity.