Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Peeking Behind the Curtain at Southwest – Paula Berg

September 20, 2009

After being introduced by Melissa Taylor from Porter Novelli as a little “wacky and off the wall” and heading the blog called “Nuts about Southwest,” we knew we were in for an interesting keynote. Paula Berg did not disappoint, providing the group with an entertaining look into how Southwest airlines integrates social media into their communication.

Berg started by providing us with the background of the “Nuts about Southwest” blog. Originally it started as a way to follow up the A&E series Airline featuring Southwest employees. The success of the show revealed increases in sales and job applications. The airline had no editorial control over the show and though at times there were some “cringe moments,” they trusted their employees to represent the company.

After a nine-month planning phase, the blog team had established the main goals and objectives and found those “people who oozed Southwest” to post to the blog. Their overall plan with social media was to connect with people they way they wanted to connect. In the process, they got to know their audience including those who wrote aviation blogs and participated in forums related to aviation.

Case Studies

Berg also discussed a few case studies featuring how Southwest has used social media in various situations. Each provided Southwest with valuable lessons to incorporate into their overall strategy. When they asked their customers to comment about their preferences between open and assigned seating, they got an overwhelming response to keep their open seating policy.  Southwest learned “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and more importantly to keep what makes them unique.

The airline has faced two major public relations situations in recent years, involving sensitive topics. In the first one, the received negative feedback in a situation regarding a woman wearing revealing clothes being asked to cover up by flight attendants, they chose to wait before responding. As a consequence, when Southwest again faced negative feedback dealing with the “too pretty to fly” story, Berg revealed they applied the lessons and created a three-pronged approach to respond. The plan provided an online spokesperson, create an official statement, and a YouTube video.

One of the biggest threats to the Southwest reputation happened in March 2008 when the FAA fined the airline $10.2 million for inspections. This situation was the first where the legal department stepped in to limit the conversation. Berg said that they could only repost information already posted, but not create any new content. Though the received much fewer comments during this situation, they learned to “take every situation seriously.”

Berg also discussed some of the tools Southwest uses outside of the blog. The airline uses YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. One of their most popular recent videos was of a rapping flight attendant. That video sparked popularity for others on their YouTube channel. He has since been dubbed the rhythmic ambassador for Southwest.

In all of the case studies discussed, Berg emphasized that the “micro interactions lead to lasting impressions,” providing organizations with a unique opportunity to connect with their audiences.

Berg left the group with four key takeaways:

1)      Establish channels before a crisis

2)      Don’t be afraid to join the conversation

3)      Act fast – don’t hesitate

4)      Build a strong team

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Lieutenant Connie Braesch on the Coast Guard’s Social Media Participation

September 19, 2009

 

Lt. Braesch via Skype

Lt. Braesch via Skype

“When it comes to social media we are definitely in the lead” (relative to its service’s size) —a bold statement made by Lieutenant Connie Braesch, the Social Media Tactical Action Officer for Coast Guard Public Affairs.

 

And rightly so—even though the Coast Guard only composes 2% of the U.S. Armed Forces, they have an encompassing presence in the social media world. Among other platforms, the Coast Guard has a service-wide blog, the Coast Guard Compass, and official Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr accounts.

According to Lt. Braesch, the purpose of utilizing these platforms is to educate and inform the public about what the Coast Guard does every day, which includes more than just rescue missions. The Coast Guard is also responsible for navigations law enforcement, ice operations in the Arctic, homeland security roles, drug and immigrant interdiction and maritime law enforcement.

“Every Coast Guard member (Guardian) is a spokesperson for the service. Everybody is considered a voice,” Lt. Braesch said. As a result, the Coast Guard has roughly 100 separate official social media sites, and those are only the ones known to Lt. Braesch.

In order to establish a more collaborative voice among the separate voices representing the Coast Guard, Lt. Braesch shared with Connect participants the Coast Guard’s criteria for social media participation:

1. Full disclosure is required. Contributors to social media from within the Coast Guard must identify who they are, their position and for whom they work.

2. Always provide a short disclaimer. When engaging on unofficial Coast Guard sites, a disclaimer is included to establish that the Coast Guard does not endorse the site or any links on the site.

3. General comment policy. The Coast Guard does not allow anonymous comments.

For a one-stop shop for Coast Guard news, people can go to the Coast Guard Twitter, which is a live RSS feed of Coast Guard press releases. After measuring the click-through rate of this tactic, Lt. Braesch continues to employ this because she knows the Coast Guard’s publics use and enjoy it. Lt. Braesch is able to freely and quickly disseminate this information because the Coast Guard trusts her team to do their own social media without approvals. Since the blog is 100% her voice, it helps to build credibility and authenticity to the posts.

Social media also played a large role in how the Coast Guard responded to the recent 9/11/09 incident, where a Coast Guard training exercise was mistaken as a potential threat to the presidential motorcade crossing the Potomac River Bridge. The Coast Guard is now conducting a content analysis investigation of Twitter streams and blog comments to assess public opinion on the incident.

As for the future of the Coast Guard’s involvement in social media, they want to find the balance between more engagement and less security risks—and continue to be the leader in social media in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Lieutenant Connie L. Braesch assumed her duties as the Social Media Tactical Action Officer for Coast Guard Public Affairs on June 1, 2009.  In her current assignment, she is the voice behind the Coast Guard’s social media participation. She also produces and distributes Coast Guard policy and procedures for the use and application of social media as well as provides consultation for service communicators.

NOTE: The original post was edited for factual information.

Sara Valkova on Integrating Social Media in Non-Profits: Engage, Don’t Promote

September 19, 2009

3934459406_b0d295e1e7When non-profit organizations step into the social media world, they must first know their audience and have a particular goal in mind for reaching that audience, according to Sara Valkova of Emory Healthcare’s Web Marketing Team.

“Some non-profits are in the social media world because they feel like they should and don’t know how to use social media effectively. They are not engaging and not having a dialogue,” Valkova said. “Social media should be about initiating two-way communication between a non-profit organization and their audience, and not all about brand reputation management.”

An example of using social media as a way to connect with publics can be found in Emory’s February Heart Month initiative.  Emory created an online calendar with heart-related tips for each day of the month and also provided a newsletter full of heart-healthy tips. Emory promoted this initiative with a Facebook ad that targeted the desired audience, those at risk for heart disease. Not only is this an example of using social media tools to engage with your publics, but it also shows how traditional and social media can go hand-in-hand.

Emory also uses social media for direct and timely customer service. For example, some patients are more comfortable going to a public forum like Facebook or Twitter to complain about a bad experience at the hospital than directly telling their nurse. When Valkova and her team sees complaints like this in the social media sphere, they contact the nurse in the unit responsible for the complaint and directly address the problem.

“Our target is very defined, so we target that group and we go where they are,” Valkova said.

When asked about the future of integrating social media in non-profit organizations, Valkova replied: “Non-profits have to see what’s important to their audience in order for social media to work for them.” Just like the old adage says, you have to know where you are in order to know where you are going.

Sara Valkova is a web development specialist for Emory Healthcare and co-chair of the Emory Social Media Advisory Board. She is the driving voice behind Emory Healthcare’s social media initiatives and responsible for developing and implementing Emory’s social media tactical plan. You can follow Emory on Twitter @emoryhealthcare.