Analysis: Southwest’s outreach on Twitter

Known for its social media savvy, the airline tweets with its passengers, especially those with gripes. The author decided to take a close look.

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Weather and mechanical delays can put a damper on your travel, not to mention losing your luggage or having that close talker sit next to you on a cross-country flight. Irritated passengers air their grievances on social media.

Though you might think the social media managers of an airline might prefer to ignore all those complaints, Southwest Airlines continues to engage their passengers on Twitter, creating a loyal following and lending a sympathetic ear to those having a bad travel day.

Often seen as one of the Twitter superstars, the company adopted the platform in 2007. As an avid flyer and fan of Southwest, I have tweeted a handful of complaints over the past five years, but I’ve never received a response.

This got me thinking, “Do you have to be a Twitter superstar yourself to get the attention of @SouthwestAir?” To answer that question, I analyzed each tweet that came from @SouthwestAir this past July and August and noted:

• Whether the tweet was sent to the entire follower base, a reply, or a retweet;

• Whether it was a reply, the amount of influence the recipient had based on the number of their followers;

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