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JetBlue engages in real conversation on Twitter

March 17th, 2008
Filed under: Corporate Communications, Ethics, Social Media, Twitter — joel @ 1:28 pm

Last night I was twittering with some friends about JetBlue’s use of Twitter, and while we were chatting, two of us received email notifications that @JetBlue (the company’s “handle” on Twitter) was following us. (”Follow” is Twitter speak for being able to read our “updates,” or posts.)

As consumer advocacy radicals, the two of us immediately reacted that we found this a little “spooky.” Someone else commented that JetBlue was using a bot to do its updates. A few minutes later, I received a comment on my blog from Morgan Johnston from JetBlue corporate communications:

Hi Joel,

Sorry if we weirded you or your friend out by following you on twitter. @JetBlue isn’t a bot, it’s merely me and my team keeping our ears to the ground and listening to our customers talk in open forums so we can improve our service to them. It’s not marketing, it’s trying to engage on a level other than mass broadcast, something I personally believe more companies should try to do.

Because corporate involvement in social media is a new and evolving discipline, I also take a specific interest on conversations revolving around our role here. I’d have DMd you and Lisa directly if you allowed DMs, so please also forgive me for following the link on your twitter page here to send you this note.

You and Lisa are no longer being ‘followed’ as you seem to indicate.

Again, my apologies

Morgan Johnston
Corporate Communications
JetBlue Airways

Morgan and I exchanged a few emails and I learned that Morgan is behind JetBlue’s tweets, and not a bot, and that Morgan is very well informed on social media ethics and aware that corporate use of Twitter can be tricky. I am impressed that Morgan was watching Twitter closely enough to sense an issue, responded quickly, apologized, and removed the two of us from @JetBlue’s list. This served as a demonstration of the company’s active participation in the Twitter conversation, its willingness to course-correct, and of the new speed of social media with which corporations have to contend.

Morgan also assured me that only a handful of JetBlue’s 700+ followers were JetBlue employees and the company was surprised to have so many followers.

I have written often on social media ethics, but don’t want to be perceived as a hardliner. I think it’s better that a company, like JetBlue, dip a toe in the water and give something new and creative a try, rather than being scared away by the threat of protests from social media purists.

Not every corporate social media initiative will be satisfied with engagement alone. JetBlue is in uncharted skies. Morgan and JetBlue have shown a true willingness to engage in a real conversation alongside the company’s promotional tweets, and I think that’s how successful corporate social media has to play out.

If you’re interested, you can follow JetBlue on Twitter.

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25 Comments »

  1. C’mon, Joel.

    Give them the props for doing it transparently. The message a company *might* derive from this is that you need to create a Twitter identity like “crazywackyguy” to do the monitoring.

    For that matter, they could just do the monitoring through Tweetscan or Terraminds - but that wouldn’t open the door for reverse communication.

    Now — imagine you’ve got JetBlue following you on Twitter. And you’re wondering about a last minute weather delay that you heard about in the cab on the way to the airport. Now imagine sending a Direct Message to JetBlue asking them a question about re-routing or delays.

    An instant line back for customer service. I’d do it. They might just experiment with that…

    Comment by Ike — March 17, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  2. [...] Postman recently had an interesting encounter with JetBlue Airways. The company created a Twitter account to keep those interested (customers, [...]

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  3. [...] be fair, beyond the theoretical there are some business uses for Twitter, as Joel Postman noted in his recent revelation that JetBlue jumped into a recent Twitter conversation of his, nearly [...]

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  4. [...] » JetBlue engages in real conversation on Twitter Airlines on twitter… who would have thunk it (tags: marketing travel twitter corporate airline socialmedia) [...]

    Pingback by Sean’s Mental Walkabout » Blog Archive » links for 2008-04-02 — April 1, 2008 @ 11:37 pm

  5. Highly valuable post– I can’t wait to dig through your site more! I work in Communications for a major corp. and I would love to read more on this topic to figure out if it’s the right fit for our business.

    Comment by Jennifer Robinson — April 2, 2008 @ 12:44 pm

  6. you should invite them to re-follow. you scared them off. :-(

    Comment by ben — April 2, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  7. [...] e-tools to reach their customers so it was great to read her article which links to a story about Jet Blue for adopting Twitter as a communication tool for their customers via http://www.socializedpr.com. These article finds were great [...]

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  11. [...] If used right, Twitter can be a valuable means for communicating outside of the organization. As a micro-blogging platform, it can be employed as an informal way to call attention to news and topics related to your field, or provide updates about your service. It’s less than formal nature also lets you to interact with your audience in new ways. Got something to post that’s not quite an email, not quite a newsletter heading? Maybe it’s a tweet. [...]

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  13. Great post but I’m honestly confused. Why was being followed “spooky”. I’m kind of new to Twitter but that’s one of the 4 or 5 fundamental features that Twitter offers (not counting the millions of 3rd party apps). I mean this as respectfully as possible, but if being followed is “spooky” why are you on Twitter?

    Comment by greg — June 2, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

  14. Greg,

    You are right that followers/following is a primary component of Twitter, but I didn’t say that it was spooky to be followed by jetBlue. What I said was that jetBlue was listening to us, basically monitoring us, and responding, PRIOR to formally following on Twitter. Even jetBlue recognized that this might not have been the right approach, immediately unfollowing us when we expressed concerns and apologizing for any discomfort they may have caused, which is why I came to praise them. They showed tremendous sensitivity, and a human side, in the whole process.

    Joel

    Comment by joel — June 2, 2008 @ 1:52 pm

  15. [...] Jet Blue engages in real conversations on Twitter — Joel Postman of Socialized (btw, check out cool new design!) . [...]

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    Pingback by Social Media Statistics: Twitter — August 27, 2008 @ 4:30 am

  17. Personally, I think this is an example of the perfect use of social media. As long as these companies are personalizing their tweets, there’s nothing wrong with keeping an ear open for when your company is being discussed; I mean that’s why there are tools that allow you to do that. Being an owner of several health and fitness centers in SoCal, I keep track of the people that are interested in or discussing any issues that may relate to my business. Again, bravo to them for making sure you and your friend knew they weren’t sending out automated messages, and hopefully other big business’s will follow their lead.

    Comment by Matt Mahowald-New PFC — February 23, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  18. Nice article Joel. For further reference, you can check this post on Jetblue’s and Southwest’s use of Twitter: http://newmediachatter.com/blog/jetblueontwitter

    Comment by Daniel Laury — March 17, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  19. [...] and airports which have started appearing on Twitter and are tweeting everything from offers, real conversation to baggage allowance. The list below is separated into airlines which serve the UK (plus a few US [...]

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  20. [...] Personal engagement (via Socialized PR) [...]

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  21. [...] has been phenomenal. As an example, while researching this post I came across post by Joel at Socialized about how he was followed by JetBlue. He quotes Morgan Johnson of JetBlue saying that he is pleased [...]

    Pingback by Jetblue – this week’s Twitter case study « Lots of Small Fires — August 26, 2009 @ 8:19 am

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