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Study Shows Southwest Airlines Rules The Social Atmosphere

Progressive, passenger-centric Southwest Airlines rules the social atmosphere, far surpassing other domestic and international airlines on Twitter and Facebook activity, research by Lets Fly Cheaper finds.


There’s a lot to “like” about Southwest Airlines (on Facebook), and the company does a great job engaging passengers and the public using Social Media Marketing (SMM).  New research by business travel experts Lets Fly Cheaper (LFC) declares Southwest Airlines the undisputed ruler of the social atmosphere. The study compares eight airlines’ activity levels on Twitter and Facebook to gauge their social media marketing (SMM) effectiveness.  The findings show Southwest dominating both social networking sites, with JetBlue second, the major U.S.-based airlines vying for a distant third place, and international airlines lagging significantly on social network presence.
The study results, reflecting Twitter and Facebook activity as of May 12, 2012 and published in a colorful infographic at compare Delta, United, Southwest, American, Air France, Emirates, Cathay Pacific and JetBlue across several measures of social networking activity.
Social media includes web-based and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication (including marketing messages) into interactive dialogue between organizations, communities and individuals.  The Lets Fly Cheaper study focuses on the two most prominent social media networking sites Twitter and Facebook. 
“Use of social media marketing demonstrates innovation born out of the simple need to do more with less. The social atmosphere is today’s cutting-edge low-cost/no-cost marketing environment. It’s no surprise to find Southwest at the forefront of social media marketing. Southwest was founded on ingenuity and has always been a leader in passenger and public engagement. Social media fits the Southwest culture perfectly, where older airlines seem to be playing catch-up in this powerful modern marketing arena,” said Ramon Van Meer, Lets Fly Cheaper marketing director.
How did Lets Fly Cheaper determine the winner?
Lets Fly Cheaper looked at each metric and the cumulative social media marketing impact of all measures in declaring Southwest “ruler of the social atmosphere.” On a couple of individual measures tracked in the research, other airlines actually outscored Southwest Airlines. For example, JetBlue has slightly more Twitter followers (1.67 million vs. 1.29 million) and more than 100,000 more in the U.S. (948,700 to 845,500).  American, United and Delta all showed more mentions in the last four weeks than Southwest (13,600, 12,500, and 9,900 respectively to Southwest’s 9,600).
However, no airline comes close to Southwest’s almost 2.3 million Facebook likes. The next closest airline is Air France with 765,102, followed by JetBlue with 599,297.  Southwest wins again in number of people “talking about this” with 41,035; although in this category Emirates is a very close second with 39,290.
Overall, the U.S.-based airlines (Delta, United, American, Southwest and JetBlue) are significantly (10 times to 100+ times) more engaged in social networking than the international airlines studied (Air France, Emirates, and Cathay Pacific). Of the domestic airlines, Delta, United and American are fairly equal in their engagement with Twitter and Facebook users, but are nowhere near at the level of JetBlue and Southwest, which are both quite active.
“If we look only at Twitter, JetBlue has a slight edge over Southwest, with more followers and substantially more active following of other Twitter members (111,897 to 10,137). But when we factor in mentions per tweet the balance shifts in Southwest’s favor,” commented van Meer. “On Facebook, there’s simply no contest. Southwest has three times more “likes” than closest competitor Air France and almost four times more “likes” than JetBlue.  Plus, Southwest’s 41,035 “talking about this” score is four times higher than JetBlue’s 4,016. It’s clear which airline is dominating the social media conversation: Southwest Airlines.”

About Lets Fly Cheaper
Lets Fly Cheaper is a Business Travel specialist, focused on supplying the best available fares to international destinations worldwide. To book the lowest fare contact one of our professional travel agents at 800.240.0461.


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