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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Southwest Airlines Soars On TikTok

Finalist in TikTok Presence


In the dynamic landscape of social media, Southwest Airlines took flight on TikTok with a groundbreaking strategy that not only captured the essence of our brand but also resonated deeply with the GenZ and Millennial audiences. With a vision to be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline, our approach to building a brand presence on TikTok was characterized by ingenuity, authenticity, and an unwavering commitment to engaging content – all achieved without a paid media budget or agency support.

Our objectives included:

Strategy and Execution

Our strategy was multifaceted and meticulously executed. Recognizing TikTok’s unprecedented growth and its magnetic appeal to younger demographics, we set out to establish a holistic brand presence that mirrored our corporate vision. With our objectives clearly defined, we assembled a cross-functional Team of social media strategists, content creators, and Employee influencers to bring the vision to life.

Channel Strategy: Launch a branded, verified @SouthwestAir account (and remove imposter accounts) and develop a primarily GenZ/Millennial audience through entertaining content, relevant influencer partnerships, and proactive community management.

Content Strategy: Publish a wide variety of content, including TikTok trends, travel inspiration, behind-the-scenes story times, day-in-the-life videos, and Southwest’s famous heartwarming storytelling. Leverage in-app features like trending audio, filters, CapCut templates and more to ensure our content would resonate with the community. Measure and optimize content themes that resonate with our target audience.

Partnership Strategy: Partner with influencers and creators, including Southwest Employee influencers, to publish content on their channels and Southwest’s channel to grow Southwest’s TikTok following by borrowing equity from established, trusted influencers/creators.

Community Management Approach: Ensure Southwest’s TikTok is as friendly and welcoming as a Southwest flight by quick and consistent engagement with users. Proactively seek opportunities to engage on relevant content from other accounts by monitoring tags, mentions, topics, and influential accounts.

Overall, we knew Southwest’s humor, heartfelt storytelling, and authenticity were a perfect match for the TikTok platform.


In just 12 months, Southwest Airlines was soaring on TikTok! We established a holistic presence, growing the account beyond 287,000 followers, eliminating dozens of imposter accounts, earning verification, and implementing a consistent engagement strategy (Objective 1).

With no production budget, we created and published 130 pieces of content across 6 content categories (Objective 2). One out of every 10 videos earned more than 1M views.

With no paid media, Southwest’s videos earned 80.3M total views and 11.7M total engagements, making Southwest Airlines the #2 domestic airline on TikTok (by total likes). The account is quickly approaching our stated objective of becoming the #1 domestic airline on TikTok (Objective 3).

We effectively captured the attention of our target audience (Objective 4): 82% of Southwest’s followers are GenZ or Millennial and 86% of followers are in the U.S. 

Top Performing Videos:

Other highlights and recognition:


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Southwest Airlines


Entry Credits