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How to lead a social media engagement strategy — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Travis Kenney of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

11:15 —’s Erin McDaniel introduces Southwest Airlines’ Social and Public Relations Lead, Christi McNeill.

11:16 — Christi share 8 steps for engagement:

  1. Define your business objectives
  2. Find your voice
  3. Hire the right people
  4. Understand your audience
  5. Understand your competition
  6. Research
  7. Plan for crisis
  8. Have fun!

11:17 — Christi: Define your business objective: What are you trying to achieve and how can social play a role?

11:18 — Christi says to find your voice: Southwest Airlines is fun and friendly. What is the tone of your brand?  What is your culture?  How do you communicate on other channels? What do your customers expect?

11:19 — Christi: Hire the right people: Start small, find internal cheerleaders that understand the business and social. Equip your community managers to be spokespeople. Would you trust them to speak to the NY Times?  They MUST BE: good writers, ability to manage multiple projects, internal evangelists, able to work well in collaborative environment, and able to operate with a “filter.”

11:22 — Christi says that as for the Southwest team, the social business steering committee is at the top (executive level leaders), then communications, marketing, and customer relations teams. All teams listen and monitor.

11:25 — Christi shares a story about Holly, a flight attendant: She saw an in-air Facebook post from a passenger that prompted her to have a cookie cake waiting for her and the passenger who made the post when they landed.

11:26 — Christi: Understand your audience: Listen and research. Understand the conversation before you jump in. What are the pain points? Make a list of words not to use, make sure you have the right message, the right channel, and keep records of previous conversations with customers.

11:28 — Christi: Understand your competition: What’s working for them? How are they innovating? How are they changing conversations? Understand that your share of voice, keeps “hot” issues in perspective.

11:29 — Understand the policy/law: Make sure your communities and executive team understand employee social media policies and can execute them well.

11:31 — Develop a crisis plan: This will make or break your social program. Brainstorm everything that could go wrong and create a plan. Get a seat at the table when executives make decisions. You should be prepared with everything approved and agreed on ahead of time.

11:32 —  Lastly, Christi says to be yourself! Have fun!

Q & A:

Q: How do you distinguish between a brand response and personal response from an employee?

A: Christi: We put initials on Facebook responses and employee Twitter handles on tweet responses.

Q: How do you hire the right people and get them to match the brand?

A: Christi: We hire for attitude and train for skill. Each employee has to have personality, be warm and friendly. We have a culture team that meets twice a year. They’re responsible for carrying the brand into the work group. We’re graded on our Southwest culture and spirit. For example, we ask “How many culture events did I go to?” We also have social media training for our employees.

Q: There’s always potential for another crisis. How do you vet that?

A: Christi: We have steps to managing hot issues: When a post raises a red flag, we reach out to an on-call Southwest social media contact. We get all the facts before we respond to the customer. Then, the social media communicator on-call notifies our news team and begins a timeline report. We contact the appropriate departments, stations (the airport), determine a resolution, and hopefully have a happy customer.

December 10, 2013 0 comments

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