3 Brands and IMC: Wendy’s, Playstation, and Southwest Airlines

A few weeks ago I talked about three different brands’ blogs and why I thought they were successful based on content, features, design, how they were integrated with other channels, and so on. This week I’m going to do something a little similar and discuss three brands who are active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Youtube, and how they’re using IMC. Let’s start with…

Southwest Airlines

I’m going to start with the brand at the end of the list because as far as social media presence goes, frankly, it’s one of my favorite brands, and I think it sets an example to follow.

SW Air collage
Images from Southwest Airlines’s Facebook (left), Google+ (top right), and Instagram (bottom right), featuring the heart of its company–employees, customers, and their families.

The first two things I notice about Southwest Airlines’s social media presence is consistency, consistency, consistency…oh, and content galore. Southwest Air wastes no time letting consumers know it’s personable. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or Youtube, the brand highlights the real, everyday people who give its company life–namely, its customers, its employees, and their families. Instagram is particularly abound with photos of the company’s planes, passengers, baggage handlers, flight attendants, pilots, and Facebook and Google+ even feature duplicated content highlighting celebrity fliers like Middleman Burr and Barenaked Ladies. If you don’t know of the latter, yes, the link is SFW.

SW twitter
#WineWednesday

You’ll find some of the same imagery across this brand’s channels, particularly photos and videos linked by hashtags like #Disneyland60, and the new, big one, #SouthWestHeart. However, the consistency isn’t cookie-cutter. Every channel does have unique content, such as a more spontaneous #WineWednesday post on Twitter. I think this balance between consistent and unique content is a great way to both link the company channels as well as drive consumers between them both ways.

Simple SW
The new Southwest Airlines tri-color heart, featured online, and now, onboard! (Photo and mention w/ permission).

That Southwest heart logo, before I forget, is a new, tri-color version of Southwest’s familiar, older one. It’s clearly central to their current look, as it appears on all of their media channels. The company has even begun to feature the logo onboard their planes, literally giving their machines a heart, as real-life Southwest Air flight attendant (and personal friend) Simple Flores demonstrated in her recent Instagram post (also pictured above/left).

Although Southwest Airlines’s Youtube and Google+ channels aren’t as frequently updated as their other sites but they do stay fresh, and the two do come together nicely to support the company’s video content, which is fantastic. Southwest Air uploads everything from company-wide service updates to more candid, on-the-ground employee and customer stories (see their “A Day In the Life” series), and customers contribute their own experiences such as entertaining vignettes like the one below:

SW listen team
The Southwest Airlines social media team (image source).

Before I move on, it’s also worth mentioning that there is an entire team dedicated to listening in on what consumers are saying about Southwest Air across all social media channels. This team doesn’t just watch, however, it’s tasked to providing as much real-time feedback to its audience as possible. Read more about it here on Southwest’s blog.

Let’s keep it weird, and continue moving through the list backwards, with…

Playstation

Playstation is one of the most prolific brands I can think of when it comes to social media and IMC. You can find the videogame giant just about everywhere. What strikes me about Playstation’s channels is the large amount of content. The company really loves to post images and videos–it makes up most of their overall content. In fact, their Google+ page, which is linked to Youtube, features so many video posts, it’s hard to tell apart from their Instagram.

Playstation collage
Playstation’s Google+ (left), Facebook (top right), and Instagram (bottom right) are all highly visual channels.

Like any brand with good IMC, Playstation is consistent. Its Twitter and Facebook pages are buddied up. They tend to stay updated with new, similar content such as release dates, previews, Playstation Network (PSN) coupons and offers, and the like. Meanwhile, it’s Google+ and Youtube channels tend to prioritize video sneak peaks and announcements. On Instagram, you’ll find more niche photos, such as Playstation products being showcased at big conventions like E3, or snapshots of product anniversaries and awards.

Playstation doesn’t seem to use as many hashtags as Southwest Air and other brands that I’ve seen. Perhaps the need is diminished by the company’s already-overwhelming presence in the gaming-focused corners of the social media world, or because Playstation’s content and posts contain a great variety of already highly-visible subjects whose tags are bringing in consumers as it is. High-profile, or “triple A”, titles like Star Wars Battlefront (see the preview trailer PS posted below) often already have followings so massive that extra effort just creates more meta tag clutter than anything.

Playstation complaintsMy one criticism of Playstation’s IMC isn’t that it’s not well-connected, or that it lacks content or cross-channel push and pull. The issue I see is that unlike other brands like Southwest Air, Shutterstock, Nike, or Starbucks, Playstation isn’t ranked among the “greats” of social media feedback and customer service. The company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts are informative and fresh, but they tend to be ridden with unanswered comments and complaints. As popular as its products are, Playstation ought to invest some more effort in “being human” rather than risk applying old-fashioned “top-down” tactics to new media.

Wendy’s

Here’s a brand we all know, and one that I began paying more attention to while writing my blog post on Snapchat–Wendy’s.

Wendy's collage
Snippets from Wendy’s Google+ (left), Youtube (top right), and Instagram (bottom right).
Wendy's side by side
Wendy’s DTFA Coupon Books simultaneously posted on Twitter and Facebook, and check out that brand feedback! 

The way Wendy’s approaches its IMC is similar to the other two brands I’ve talked about in some topical ways. Consistency? Check. Content? Check. Hashtags and common videos and photos? Check. Wendy’s has the crucial basics, but I like some other things the brand throws into the spotlight. One is style. As you’d expect, the company’s Facebook and Twitter are content-sharing pals, as are its Google+ and Youtube accounts. I think we’ve established that as a popular big-brand tactic. And why not? It works well, and generates some push and pull. However, if you visit the Wendy’s Instagram you get something different…

Wendy's fries n frosty
Dipping fries in a Frosty–it’s like they know us.

There’s a noticeable interest in artistic depiction of Wendy’s food–not something you may expect from a place that serves up fast food, but hey, maybe I went in expecting too little. The photos are a cool mix of interesting, bird’s-eye-view shots of Wendy’s menu items and the hands of consumers holding and eating them. There are also some close-ups of employee uniforms and some homages to Dave Thomas. It’s a nice change-up, and it helps establish the brand’s Instagram as distinct from the others, rather than a “we-couldn’t-decide-exactly-what-to-put-here,” tag-along channel.

Wendy's twitter DTFA
Wendy’s tweets about their new cups supporting the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Something else I think works well for Wendy’s is that it doesn’t make excessive use of traditional hashtags in the headlines of tweets, or Facebook or Instagram posts. I think the company does well to use other key words and phrases to link its content together. Take Twitter, where it mentions @DTFA, or the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption in tweets that feature stories of adopted children. These stories can also be found on a special Wendy’s Youtube playlist, “Adoption Stories – My First Family Memory“. The series uses multiple social channels to connect its audience animated short stories of real adoptees’ first family memories, such as the one below.

Well there you have it! What brands do you think are making the most of IMC? Visit the comments below and share your thoughts!

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