Major airlines, after a decade online, are expanding their social-media efforts in an effort to communicate with customers and burnish their brand. "It is the most efficient way to share news, whether it's to our customers or to our employees," says a Southwest Airlines employee responsible for communicating with the company's nearly 775,000 Twitter followers. Meanwhile, an American Airlines executive calls social media the "next great frontier," noting that his company is launching BlackAtlas.com, a social network for African-American travelers.

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