Southwest Airlines: Nuts About Social Media!
It was my first time at Brennan’s, one of Houston’s most prestigious restaurants (and also a Schipul client). The atmosphere was very formal, but the speaker, Brooks Thomas (@brooksethomas) of Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) Emerging Media team was quite exuberant and quickly made it an entertaining afternoon of knowledge sharing.
Brooks serves as the Managing Editor for the Nuts About Southwest, their award winning blog that gives a voice to the employees and customers of Southwest. He began his presentation on the evolution of storytelling and how our society has formed so many platforms of expression: phone calls, texting, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and so many more. All age groups are getting in on this social media frenzy, including 50-something -year-olds (they’re the fastest growing group of users beeteedubs). And social media is literally at our fingertips; 40% of social media users access it through their phones.
Who should be writing the stories?
I’m glad you asked. Every employee has the opportunity to be a reporter. This way you can create a sort of “corporate newsroom” with in your company. He shares, “Empower your employees to have a voice and compelling stories will happen.”
Browse for content everywhere. You never know where a great story could come from. Your field employees can be pitchers, facilitators and reporters. This comes easier with an established internal communications team, education in storytelling, and empowering your people.
The blog basics of storytelling and creating compelling content that people actually want to read according to Brooks (also the title of his upcoming book. Not really. But it should be.):
- Present an idea
- Determine the media you’ll use
- Establish a timeline so people will know when to expect the story
- Be available to assist
I especially agreed with his point, “It’s a lot easier to catch a story when you’re ahead of it.”
AKA: Be prepared! Know your plans. Know what’s visual. Know your time frame. If you have a store opening coming up, get those cameras there to record it, tell people about it to get them to come, know when and where everything is happening so that you are READY when the time comes and you can get the best possible coverage of that story.
“We are story telling and everyone has a story. It is your job to find out what’s compelling on a day to day basis,” he said.
Also, to stay organized; keep your content rolling; and post on schedule, create an editorial calendar and set at least 2 weekly times to post so your customers have something to see on a regular basis. No more than 4 franchise posts a week because that’s when it gets too difficult to keep up with.
Hearing from Brooks and how Southwest Airlines manages their online presence and relationships with consumers was inspiring, to say the least. It’s easy to get caught up in tools and technology, but Brooks didn’t delve into that. His focus remained on the content and the people — it was about the stories and how we relate to one another.
It was a great afternoon of laughter and learning about why Southwest is such a powerful presence in the social media world and blogosphere.