Southwest Airlines' strong social following shows downturn after safety incidents
Southwest Airlines ($NYSE:LUV), normally the object of love among its followers on social media, isn't having a good month. In fact, for the first time since we've been tracking Southwest's Facebook likes, people have begun "Unliking" the airline's Facebook page, and after today's incident involving a cracked window, it isn't likely to reverse course any time soon.
As you see in the chart, around April 17, 2018, likes for Southwest Airline on Facebook dipped from 5.9 million to 5.8 million likes. That was after a passender tragically died in a widely covered incident involving an uncontained engine failure and subsequent emergency landing. A closer look at just the last month reveals the recent deep in more detail:
Normally, a relatively minor dip in likes after some negative publicity wouldn't be cause for too much concern as it would likely be followed by a recovery as negative news fades in consumers' memories. However, just today Southwest had an eerily similar incident involving a cracked window that caused a flight from Chicago to Newark make an emergency landing. Passengers posted images of the cracked window to Twitter:
These two incidents now have people on social media questioning the safety of Southwest's fleet. Southwest recently issued a statement regarding the incident, poiting out that Flight 957 maintained cabin pressure and is now under maintenance review:
Why this matters
We track Facebook likes for all major brands, Southwest Airlines included. Likes on Facebook are an important measure of brand perception because a "Like" means a follow, leading to inclusion of that brand's Facebook posts on followers' newsfeeds. "Unliking" a brand requires a conscious effort to go to that brand's Facebook page and click on "Unlike This Page". We'll continue to monitor Southwest's social media performance as news - and reaction - crystalizes.