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Video Contest Part of Southwest's SocNet Strategy

Southwest Airlines is the latest example of a company turning to social media - Facebook in this case - to promote a service or special offer. It joins countless of other companies, from Fortune 500 to start ups, that are using these sites, in addition to standard - and still primary - methods as email marketing. New figures, along with anecdotal examples such as Southwest's experiences, though, suggest that a growing number of companies are willing to devote more to this alternative category - once, that is, they can get a handle on ROI and resource issues.

Video Contest

Southwest's goal with its campaign - a video contest that ran from Oct. 26 to Nov. 16 - was to boost awareness and traffic of its routes over the Thanksgiving holiday (via ClickZ). At face value it was a success, reaping the airline 10,968 new fans on its Facebook page.  The contest, developed by Votigo, was promoted on display ads via Yahoo, MSN, USAToday.com, NFL.com, and WSJ.com, branded with the headline "What Would you Do for $100?"

Contest participants then created a clip about what they'd be willing to do for $100 and then uploaded it at Southwest's Fan page. Prizes included vacation packages to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Phoenix.

86% Plan Increases

A growing number of companies want to experiment with such ads, according to a new report produced by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia. It found that an overwhelming majority of companies (86%) surveyed are planning to invest more in social media next year, writes MarketingCharts.com.

The issue, respondents say, is finding the time and resources to manage this activity. The research also found that many companies are experimenting with social media without yet reaping any measurable benefits. Only one-fourth of companies say that they have gained "real, tangible value" from social media, whereas 60% say that they have gained "some benefit but nothing concrete."

420 Opt In
Southwest's results appear to bear this out. The campaign did increase the brand's Facebook presence by roughly 13% with nearly 1,700 viewers voting for a winner. However, only a relatively small number of people - 420 - registered during the contest to opt-in for future messaging.

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