11/28/2012 03:32 EST

WestJet Tweets: Airline Calls Out Rude Tweeters, Earns Customers' Love


When it comes to social media, companies tend to have a tough call to make: They can stick to the formal, informative style of corporate tweets, or carve out a personality using a (trusted) social media employee.

For a company like WestJet, which has a corporate culture that ensures employees take pride of ownership in their work — and isn't averse to an April Fools' joke — the decision was apparently easy. Their Twitter feed is known to be responsive and personable, and this week, it wasn't above telling one user when enough was enough.

After one young passenger tweeted at the airline in, well, colourful language for not selling him alcohol at 7 a.m., the WestJet account replied:

Rather than turn on the company for their "harsh" response, customers quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

Airlines are in a particularly precarious spot when it comes to dealing with customers, thanks to the heightened emotions people tend to experience when travelling combined with the reactive nature of Twitter. While some, like United Airlines, have borne the brunt of passengers' wrath, others, like Southwest Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines have earned accolades for innovative uses of the medium.

Plenty of other companies have run into issues with corporate tweeters in the past, and advice abounds as to what to do — and what to avoid. Recently, KitchenAid contended with an offensive tweet about President Obama and rushed to do damage control.

But as WestJet shows, it doesn't hurt to have some personality with your social media savvy — just as long as you keep things nice and polite.

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