Jet Blue has two approaches to the use of social media, external and internal.
The use of external social media comprises Twitter, a pseudo blog “Flight Log” that has not been updated since October 2007, Facebook and MySpace pages. There is also a YouTube channel that is updated occasionally. Internal use was field tested via Jet Blue University and generally found to be highly successful in coordinating efforts, training, and communications outside of e-mail for the company.
The use of Social Media by Jet Blue is overall good, with an apparently disjointed effort to tie together various channels, but not all channels are updated frequently. Jet blue has a very up to date Twitter channel, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube channel, but the blog channel has not been updated in over a year. The commitment to social networking is embedded in the company, but some channels are underutilized like YouTube or their blog, while others are continuously updated like twitter.
Links to Jet Blue Social Networking Communications Channels
Twitter – http://twitter.com/jetblue
MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/jetblueairways
Twitter is the most heavily used of all the social networking channels that Jet Blue uses, with updates on a very regular basis, while the blog and YouTube are infrequently updated. The use of MySpace and Facebook is more customer centric, where they gather friends, but rarely discuss what is happening with Jet Blue using the two social networking sites. While they are interesting to follow, and get a sometimes update, there is no integration between all of these systems, they stand alone. Something like using Friend Feed to tie them altogether and increasing the updates on the blog and YouTube would be the next big step for Jet Blue to do in their social media campaign. They could also work with a social media manager to keep all the social media channels that they are using up to date and make it more of a community feel. Right now their social media feels disjointed, rather than a seamless process that provides customers information on their systems, status, or what is happening in their company.
Jet Blue started with social media in September of 2006 with the start of the “Flight Log” blog by David Neeleman. This is where the CEO of the company tells us about the company and the neat things that are happening with them, what is next, what is new, what is upcoming. Up through October of 2007, the blog was updated on a regular basis, and provided an interesting insight into the way that the company was running from the view of the CEO. Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook all started towards the tail end of 2007 after an earlier incident in February of 2007 where Jet Blue passengers were stranded in JFK’s airport or on planes for upwards of 9 to 11 hours.
As the blogosphere took this issue on, and began discussing the issues, Jet Blue found itself suffering under the glaring light of negative publicity. On February 19th, the CEO of Jet Blue David G. Neeleman posted a video response on YouTube to help mitigate the public outcry that was happening around that time.
Part of this was also to use traditional media to help push the message home that the conditions that stranded at the JKF terminal.
What was also an interesting use of social media and traditional to help push the message home as well to help rebuild trust in the company. While few incidents are truly company destructive the issues from the February 2007 stranding of passengers required a novel approach in communications from Jet Blue. Jet Blue did not disappoint, and much like other companies the use of social media also helped them recover their public image from what had been in the press and on the news. From the Church of the Customer, through Search Views, the apology from the CEO of the company for the stranding of passengers ended up being overall well received because the CEO took responsibility for the issues. What was also interesting was the development of a Customer Bill of Rights that they made retroactive to the melt down of the airline. By pushing this through traditional media and Social Media channels Jet Blue got a very good indication of just how well social media can be used to repair a broken image, and help rebuild customer relations.
As part of the response, in December of 2007, Jet Blue also started using internal web 2.0 communications systems (Wiki and Blog) at Jet Blue University to streamline communications internally. The goal of this experiment was to see if the company could use these technologies to pass along best practices, information, and training amongst all the Jet Blue campuses in Orlando, Queens, and Salt Lake City. This looks like it was also driven by the problems experienced in February of 2007 as well. What is also interesting is that now that Jet Blue has a social media plan, they are presenting that plan to other businesses so that they can learn from the mistakes, and the wins of the whole plan. This overall makes the sharing of information vital to other companies to learn from the ways that Jet Blue has leveraged social networking to help forward their business and raise awareness of the brand, the company, and what the company is about.
<blockquote>”JetBlue is committed to fostering the most collaborative workplace possible, and encouraging crewmember input and creativity is a key element of our success,” said Murry Christensen, director of learning technologies, JetBlue University. “Awareness serves as a strategic partner in helping us continue to innovate and give our crewmembers an easy and fun way to share their experiences, turning traditionally siloed knowledge into shared knowledge available to everyone in the company. We selected the Awareness platform due to the technology’s ability to scale as our training needs grow, and its enterprise-ready features that enabled us to easily deploy it in a secure way.” Source: New Learning Play Book </blockquote>
What was interesting was that the experiment was successful, so successful that employees were put on YouTube to also talk about the whole experiment and how it streamlined operations between three different training centers.
Spooky or Smart?
There have been occasional backfires to the social media plan that Jet Blue currently uses, one of them was reported by Jonathan Fields, in finding the behavior of Jet Blue a bit spooky that they would be monitoring the social networks for mentions of their company. Jonathan was standing in a Jet Blue terminal, and looking at William Shatner, mentioning that he was there. He then opened up his twitter account to tweet that he was next to William Shatner, in a Jet Blue terminal. Next thing he knows, Jet Blue is following his twitter account.
While the spookiness of being followed by a big company is generally something that people do not think about, in terms of the greater role that Jet Blue has in using social media, it also makes perfect sense from the branding and public relations viewpoint. The sooner a company can find out about an issue, and start working to correct it, the less likely it is going to end up being a PR disaster for the company. Other companies are also doing much the same thing (Comcast) in terms of following when their name is used in social media and engaging customers right on the spot. While some customers find this behavior spooky, it also shows a level of commitment on the part of the company to watch what is being said about their brand or company on the internet.
Mix of traditional and social media:
Based on the experience that Jet Blue had gotten to date, Jet Blue decided that they would twitter the opening of their new terminal at JFK, with coverage by the traditional press as well. The use of twitter, a dedicated blog to the terminal, as well as the traditional press to cover the event was a good use of all media sources to show expanding service. The unfortunate part of this is that the terminal blog was essentially a throw away blog on word press that was only in commission for the 22 October 2008 launch date. No updates or entries had been made to the blog since the initial opening of the terminal.
What Jet Blue is getting right
Jet Blue has an extensive social media process, both internal and external that helps them convey messages to employees, and interesting people.
They are not afraid to experiment with social media
Using internal evangelists and technologists to test new software and new communications models
Having a person who is continually interacting with social media (like on Twitter)
Monitoring their brand on the internet and engaging both good and bad news on the spot, even though this might be spooky to customers
What Jet Blue should do next
Consolidate their social media holdings by using a system like friend feed or tying them all into facebook for a comprehensive social media experience
Update their holdings on a regular basis, right now the use of the Blog and YouTube seems more crisis management rather than a steady stream of information. Jet Blue could easily put their commercials up on YouTube, and having at least a blog entry a month would also be helpful in people wanting to know more about the company. Both properties are valuable, but underutilized.
Discuss their policy of monitoring the internet to reduce the Spookiness of the behavior. Usually people are startled when they are contacted by a company, if Jet Blue talked about on their own web site(s) what they do, why they do it, and how they do it when tracking social media, that would reduce the spookiness of the process. Include the link when responding to an on line message, blog entry, or otherwise.
Jet Blue is an excellent case study in how to use Social Media to help their business get closer to customers. They have used Web 2.0, blogs, video, and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to help customers learn more about them. While the use of the systems is not continual, and they could use a more comprehensive approach, the fact that they have made inroads into these social spaces, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, blogs, and twitter shows that they understand the role that social networking can have for them.
Tags: social networking, youtube, myspace, facebook, twitter, jet blue, airlines, web 2.0, social, space, internet
- Social Media: being a user doesn’t mean you are a good practitioner (agbeat.com)
- JetBlue launches new iPhone app, revamps its mobile website (intomobile.com)
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