I’ve always maintained that my top two social media heroes are WestJet and Starbucks. These are two of my favourite companies. Not only do I enjoy their products and services, but I like their brands. Both companies believe in building a community with their employees and customers. This sense of community—of accountability, of corporate social responsibility and of building something beyond a business-to-consumer relationship—is what drives the actions of both companies, including their social media activities.
WestJet maintains an impressive following on social media with over 244,700 followers on Twitter and over 463,900 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote ticket sales, services and destinations, respond to feedback and inform people of flight delays, career opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share travel plans and pictures. Sharing pictures is especially popular on Winglet Wednesdays where passengers take a picture of the plane’s winglet—the near vertical extension of the wing tip—and post it to Twitter using the hashtag #wingletwednesday. This is a great way to have some fun while promoting the various destinations to where WestJet flies.
WestJet is excellent at responding to questions and comments in a timely and empathetic way. WestJet is also a fun company with a sense of humour and it shows through in its posts—jokes (its April Fool’s Day prank of a new Furry Family program was particularly good), entertaining questions to spark lighthearted discussions, pictures of staff and guests enjoying themselves and of the scenic destinations where it flies. But what impresses me most is WestJet’s ability to remain professional and to handle negative feedback positively, always working towards resolution.
WestJet is an airline that really cares for its customers—online and in the air.
Like WestJet, Starbucks Canada maintains an impressive following on social media with over 93,300 followers on Twitter and over 642,400 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote its products, respond to feedback and share job opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share favourite menu items and pictures. I especially like how Starbucks sells its products through social media by posting either tantalizing pictures of its drinks and food items or comforting pictures of, say, a drink cup next to a novel or a cup with a sweater cozy. Through these images, Starbucks is attempting to make an emotional connection with its followers, selling them an experience.
Starbucks is also excellent at engaging with its followers. It wants to know what people like about the Starbucks experience and what it can do to improve. The My Starbucks Idea allows people to suggest new products and services via an online forum. Others can then discuss and vote on the idea. Ideas with the most votes receive serious consideration from the company and can be implemented. The soft pretzels that Starbucks has introduced to its line up of baked goods are due to someone’s Starbucks Idea. Starbucks is also very good at answering people’s questions via Twitter and Facebook. From personal experience, questions directed to the company were answered within 24 hours.
Starbucks aims to share great coffee with its friends, and it does this both in its stores and online.
The Zero: Metro
Calling Metro a zero is a bit harsh since it does have a Facebook page, with over 99,500 fans, that it uses to promote its online flyer, products and recipes—along with enticing pictures—respond to customers’ questions and engage them by asking them about their favourite recipes and other food-related questions. However, not only is Metro missing an opportunity to engage with people on Twitter as it does on Facebook, it’s missing the chance to gather input on its existing and potential product-lines (Selection and Irresistible brands). This focus-group type activity could be done through Facebook or Twitter, or it could be done through an online discussion forum that’s integrated into Metro’s website. Metro is also missing the opportunity to be of service to people by providing them with consumer alerts and tips on healthy eating and food safety.
Metro could learn from its competitor, Loblaws—another social media hero—on the benefits a comprehensive social media strategy could have on a grocery chain.
What social media heroes or zeros have you encountered?