Kevin Smith vs. Southwest Airlines: Have a Plan for Social Media Damage Control

I recently spoke at the Social Media Breakfast Maine No. 7 on social media policies and one of the topics I discussed was damage control. This week  Southwest Airlines has had to exercise some as director Kevin Smith has expressed his outrage over an incident with the airline via social media.

Smith was asked to leave a plane for being too “large” and posing a possible threat to other passengers. He went peacefully, but this prolific Twitter user hasn’t held back and has spent the last few days tweeting about his experience and retweeting fan support.

“Dear @SouthwestAir – I know I’m fat, but was Captain Leysath really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?”
– @ThatKevinSmith

In return, Southwest Airlines has publicly apologized to Smith on Twitter.

“@ThatKevinSmith hey Kevin! I’m so sorry for your experience tonight! Hopefully we can make things right, please follow so we may DM!”
– @SouthwestAir

This is a reminder that any business using social media should have a procedure in place for damage control and it should include the following:

How do you respond

Decide how your business will respond to negative comments on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other portals. Will you respond to them, ignore them? Or other.

Who can respond

If damage control needs to happen, who do you trust to respond? If it is the person doing your social media, then that is fine. If you require them to refer to a superior, then you need to decide on a chain of command.

Chain of command

If you want your social media person to refer to a superior for damage control situations then decide the chain of command. Will they refer to the head of marketing? A vice president? The CEO?


So, you have decided there needs to be a chain of command for damage control then make sure those people are accessible. If you want your social media person to refer to the head of marketing for damage control, make sure they are available and this includes evenings and weekends. Incidences are not going to happen during traditional work hours. And, if that person goes on vacation, who is next in line for those decisions?

Hopefully, your business will not need to exercise damage control but it is good to have a procedure in place, just in case.

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.



One Response

  1. Thank you for “How to get rid of “Who To Follow” on Twitter”!

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