Students in my social media course were in for a treat on Wednesday: An engaging and informative talk from Glen Thomas of the Memphis Airport on how he utilizes social media to engage with customers and the local media. Before joining the airport in September, Glen was an architect of MLGW’s social media strategy, which was recently named the top utility company in the nation on social media.
Big, big thanks to Glen for talking with us. Several students told me how valuable they found the information. Not to mention that I’m pretty sure
A few takeaways:
- Engage with your biggest detractors as a human being. Memphis Airport has its share of critics, especially after Delta decided to de-hub us, drastically cutting the number of flights and raising prices. Glen joined the Delta Does Memphis page and occasionally posts there, responding to criticisms and sharing information as warranted. He does so as himself, believing that appearing as a human being rather than a faceless bureaucratic organization can foster better dialogue.
- Use Namechk.com to check and see if your desired username is still available at dozens of social media sites. I had forgotten about that one!
- Social media and especially Twitter is often the best way to communicate with local media. It’s fast and short. Press releases are more likely to get lost in the flood of info and aren’t as useful in a media environment in which real-time communication is prized.
- Conferences are a great way to meet counterparts, learn best practices and find ways you can work together to leverage strengths. (I second this big time. Well worth the money)
- When you are really short on time, at least spending a few minutes retweeting other’s relevant posts is a good idea.
- Before a big event announcing a major change at the airport that involved consolidation and closing some areas, Glen had some of his tweets written and saved in advance that he could release as the announcement was made – again ensuring that his communication efforts were as real-time as possibly.
- Quickly address questions and concerns via social media. This was a big lesson he learned at MLGW; residents often tweet at the utility during big storms and expect an immediate response. If your employees are going home for the night and won’t be available for a few hours, be sure to tweet that, too. Social media can be a useful way to turn your critics into advocates by providing good customer service.
- Job tip, good for students: When interviewing for the airport job, Glen went through each of the items in the posted job description and created a document showing how he could deliver on each of the items in a specific way, with examples and visuals. He had this printed up at Kinkos in color and distributed it to the group he interviewed with.
There was more good stuff, but those are just a few highlights. Thanks to Lurene Kelley for introducing us, by the way.
Another interesting fact for Memphians: Before Delta de-hubbed us, flights here were 70 to 80 percent transfer flights, just passing through. Now that has completely flipped and we are 70 to 80 percent origin and destination flights. Wow, that’s a big change.
Last but not least: Thanks to Toni Zoblotsky for bringing us COOKIES.