So, I’m hanging out with William Shatner at the Jet Blue terminal on Friday…
Well, actually, I am watching him in a mildly-creepy voyueristic kind of way as he saunters up to check in for his flight to Burbank.
My first thought is, “damn, his piece looks good.”
I’m losing my hair fast, so I am seriously tempted to ask where he bought his, but, then I remember…this is NY, we don’t do stuff like that. We’re just that cool.
But, I have to tell someone about my sighting, so I figure I’ll tweet about it. I crack open my mac, pop open Firefox, see Jet Blue’s free wi-fi terms of service page pop up, click on the button that says agree, then start to browse.
I then tweet…
JetBlue terminal. William Shatner waiting in pinstripe suite and shades to board flight to Burbank. Why’s he flying JetBlue? Free, maybe?
A few minutes later, I realize I can get a much better signal with my broadband card, so I make the switch (FYI–not much better), surf a few pages, then check my e-mail to find that…
Jet Blue is now following me on twitter.
What the?! I am instantly freaked out. My mind starts spinning. “Was there something in that terms of service page that let them track my browsing, follow me to twitter, then publicly seek to follow me on twitter?”
I’m over James T. William Denny Kirk Crane Shatner actor dude in a blink as I jump back on twitter to report,
Using JetBlue wifi to access twitter, 10 seconds later, I get a follow request from JetBlue on twitter. Half freaked out, half awed.
I think this is the end of it and vow never to use Jet Blue’s free wi-fi.
But, some 20-minutes later, the saga moves to the next phase
Oh, I should’ve told you, I had strep-throat, a uvula the size of a thumb and I was beginning to sweat enough to freak out everyone around me, so I bailed on the flight and drove home, where I did a quick check of my e-mail only to find…
An e-mail, not a DM, but an e-mail from JetBlue in response to my last message on twitter, reading:
don’t worry – we didn’t follow you on Twitter because we saw you on the WiFi (that thought scares even me!) – but because I saw your tweet about William Shatner – my intention was to see if I could DM to say something mildly silly about the idea that “well JetBlue IS on Priceline” or that he cold be flying because he likes the SciFi channel.
Sorry to startle (and Happy Jetting!
Okay, my first reaction…cool, so they’re not bugging my backpack.
Second reaction…mega jet co has some dude dedicated to monitoring and responding to what’s being said about JetBlue in the twittersphere.
That’s pretty damn cool.
Cool because they care. And cool because have a clue that something called twitter not only exists, but might be a useful way for them to participate in the conversation. Now, I needed to know more. So, I click onto JetBlue’s page on twitter and see Mr. Blue is following some 2,049 people…and 1,923 are following him back!
And, he’s having real conversations with many of them.
For crying out loud, doesn’t Jet Blue know not to get too close to the customers or else they might ask you for something and you might actually have to one day give it to them? I mean, didn’t they even crack open the stodgey old megacorp guide to optimizing returns while minimizing interaction?
This level of conversation from a multi-billion dollar company was just too much to stomach.
So, on Saturday afternoon, I e-mailed Mr. Morgan Johnston, Corporate Communications guy at Jet Blue.
Here’s what I asked him:
- What exactly do you do for JetBlue? Twitter only, do you help manage other communities?
- Why are you on twitter? What are you/JetBlue trying to accomplish?
- How did you know I mentioned JB on twitter? Have you developed a bot or other service to scan the mention of JB in real-time? Do you do it some other way?
- Are you the only one doing this or or there others?
And, in a reply that same afternoon, here’s what he shared:
I’m glad I didn’t spook you too much.
I’ll do what I can to answer your questions (although I don’t have access to all my links as I’m out and about at the moment) – let me know if you need more info.
I’m Manager of Corporate Communication, focusing on New Media uses for both internal and external communication. Because of existing proclivities toward web ‘stuff’ one of my current roles is developing a social media presence for JetBlue utilizing tools and spaces our customers (and crewmembers) are already using and comfortable with.
Several of us were already Twitter users when we saw the potential for corporate interaction directly with customers. – not necessarily marketing – but a proper communication tool to talk with customers. We learned last February the value of a certain amount of transparency when we posted a video of our founding CEO on YouTube to address customers affected by the ice storm that swept through the Northeast. Our Twitter account is much the same thing; making ourselves available in an environment where are customers already live. -again not focused on marketing – but real interaction: less billboard – more information booth.
There’s also an added advantage in that the community allows for a more casual approach and conversation than traditional dissemination services… And MUCH more immediate interaction so long as you’re able to keep up.
We track Twitter mentions of our brand through various services from the internal “track” function on Twitter to external tools like tweetscan.com or quotably.com that are freely available to all users. Many allow near immediate notification of mentions. Though we’ve learned to be careful on when we approach a conversation we see occuring. There’s a very thin line between being helpful as a company – and being overbearing.
(Things like DMing users who’ve spotted celebs at our terminal isn’t very common – but I was feeling punchy and had a good joke worked out)
We’ve had several crewmembers using the JetBlue Twitter over the last year, but this latest iteration and voice was something I pushed for and currently run solo. Though the attitude is very much in keeping with many of our crewmembers, and our brand as a whole, so I don’t worry about loosing any authenticity should I decide to take a vacation and hand the reigns off to someone else on the team (as I type this, I’m sitting in Barnes & Noble watching my wife scan through travel books)
I hope this answers a few of your questions (and I hope you had a good trip!)
On the heels of just reading a number of articles on whether micro-blogging platforms like twitter have any “real” business use and Chris Brogan’s excellent article on managing a community, I really found JetBlue and Morgan’s efforts eye-opening.
So, what do you guys think?
Is JetBlue on the leading edge of customer service? Is this going too far? Have you heard of any other companies doing anything similar? Or, experienced something similar?
Share your voice?
[PS - Don't worry, last post about twitter for a while, just needed to get it all out of my system! ;-)]
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