Posted by Abe Sauer on February 16, 2010 11:37 AM
Hey, have you heard of this Twitter thing? If Southwest Airlines hadn't before Sunday, they certainly have now.
Kevin Smith, director and actor, is known both for his oversized personality and his oversized physique. He's a big guy, and admits as much. On a recent flight on Southwest, Smith was removed from the plane for being, well, too fat. Smith immediately took to Twitter, railing against the airline in a litany of tweets. Soon, the blogging media was onto Smith's experience and started promoting the rants. The snowball was rolling downhill.
Of course Southwest knows about Twitter. As every good brand should, they maintain their own Twitter feed. The brand immediately responded to Smith's tweets, apologizing. Smith was unappeased. His rants continued and are still going on. Southwest tweeted replies. Finally, Larry King got in on the action, tweeting that Smith would be on his show to... complain further.
Smith just happens to have a film (Cop Out) releasing soon. How shocking. He does have a legitimate complaint though. However, the more he slams Southwest on Twitter, the more he may be creating sympathy for the brand. Indeed, Smith himself is not everyone's favorite, with many before the incident already seeing him as a pompous opportunist.
Also, at what point should Southwest stop responding? Or should it stop at all? Southwest's brand might best be served by taking the high road. It clearly is not benefitting the brand and Smith is sure to remain querulous, if only because it's good for his career and in his character. Southwest might best be served to maintain communication, but to move it off of Twitter where lengthy explanations are impossible and the conversation is limited to bickering and jabs.
Obviously, Twitter brand is the clear winner here. It may not be the Iranian election uprisings, but the service is again the fulcrum for an event in the national conversation, where each new development carries a mention of the brand name.