Brooks Thomas, Communications Specialist at Southwest, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss the progressive setup of the Southwest social media team, the widespread success of a long-running corporate blog, and keeping an authentic voice for a large brand.
Read on for some of the highlights and tweetable moments, or listen to the full podcast.
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“The blog has always been our anchor. All of our assets live on that blog.” -@brooksethomas (tweet this)
“We’re integrating the story with the sale messages, trying to make them the same thing.” -@brooksethomas (tweet this)
Building a Social Team
Southwest has a fairly mature setup for their social media team. As Brooks describes it, they have a cross-disciplinary, three-pronged approach: one person from Marketing, two from Communications (including Brooks), and three people from Customer Relations. This “social media team” works closely together from within their respective departments, meeting weekly and staying in constant contact with one another.
This type of setup is something we will probably see more often as social media becomes less specialized and more integrated into businesses as a whole. “Being able to get the marketing angle, the customer relations angle, and then also the PR angle, being able to blend all those together is a beautiful thing when you’ve got people who work together so well,” Brooks says. They’ve been working with this setup for about two years now.
Southwest’s blog Nuts About Southwest turns seven years old this year – quite a long time for a corporate blog.
Who writes the blog, you ask? “We encourage all of our employees to write to the blog.” All 46,000 of them. About 32 managing editors are specially trained to handle content on the blog and are responsible for being miniature versions of Brooks. These mini-Brookses are tuned into the goals, the possible pitfalls, and some direction about best practice. But Southwest is intent on keeping the blog organic: a true voice of the company. This, they hope, keeps it authentic. And it empowers employees who do small acts of greatness every day, like the now-famous story of Abraham and flight attendant Becky.
In the harrowing events gripping Boston over the past week, social media saw several heroes keeping the world updated in realtime. The Boston Globe, Boston Police Department, MIT, and Cambridge Police Department did particularly excellent jobs of disseminating information to the public on Twitter.
“The source was right there, in the moment, and they were tweeting it as soon as possible,” Zena says. “For me, it was a way to know that it was real, it was authentic, it was coming from somebody that was right there.”
Of course, putting together a broadcast for television requires a little more than typing a tweet and sending it out, but at times it was shocking how far behind Twitter the televised news was.
Social Media Stat of the Week: 72 hours per minute
69% of marketers expect to put the most increased efforts into YouTube in 2013. Perhaps this is because of the enormous content being produced there; 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Similarly, Nielsen ratings seem to be outdated. A recent Wired article, “The Nielsen Family is Dead,” delves into the impressive Twitter numbers of some of today’s hit television shows. Video is becoming an increasingly pivotal way of delivering quality content, and not just on YouTube.
Quality content on television translates to a significant increase in ad revenue, licensing fees, and subscriptions. Content may not be king, but quality content certainly is.
Four Your Information
How did you get involved in social media?
Brooks was working at a Fox-owned news channel based out of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. “I was producing at the time. We saw everything start to pick up and realized we needed a presence.”
What do you like best about social media?
“Gosh,” he says. “The people.” This past week, for example. “It’s amazing that I would see stuff reported on Twitter first, not just once, but dozens of times. I think that is so powerful.”
What, conversely, do you like least about social?
“I think it’s probably hubris. I’m not a huge fan of hubris. When people are humble bragging all over the place – not even humble bragging, but bragging in any regard – it pisses me off.
If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who might that be and why?
Brooks wants to do a Skype call with David Bowie, partly because of how well he consistently reinvents himself. His last album went “old school” with publicity, playing its cards close to the chest. “Not a lot of people can keep a secret these days.”
See you next week!