January 19, 2012

A Day In The Life: Social Media

Welcome to the third edition in our new series, A Day in the Life, where we take you behind-the-scenes at JetBlue to learn more about the important jobs that work in concert to make a major airline run. This time, we visit with Morgan, a member of our communications team who has one of the most unique and entertaining (not to mention nonstop) jobs at JetBlue.

“I have the best job,” Morgan says. “I get paid to be on Facebook and Twitter all day.”

Joking aside, Morgan works a lot (just because business hours are over, doesn’t mean Twitter goes to bed). He started at JetBlue nine years ago, when we were in our infancy, and quickly positioned himself as an invaluable resource, working first in the IT department running internal video production and then moving over to the communications department in 2007. He started JetBlue’s Twitter account shortly after, when the social media channel was mostly still a twinkle in the world wide web’s eye. He also signed us up for Facebook in 2009.

Today, our Facebook page has 553,986 likes and Twitter boasts 1.6 million followers, more than any other airline and more than many other big brands.

Morgan rivals the energizer bunny when it comes to his uncanny ability to provide upbeat and interesting ideas for communicating with our customers and the general public via social media.

As our Twitter following grew, his sleep shrunk, as he worked to keep up with responding to the quickly growing volume of inbound inquiries, concerns, compliments, and criticism. He identified that our social media channels were not simply tools for pushing information out, but, perhaps more importantly, a way of taking a real-time pulse for the company, eyes and ears for what was going on. He recognized the need for additional hands-on-deck to stay on top of incoming tweets and to maintain our reputation as “a large company that feels like a small company,” which helped create what we now call the Real Time Recovery Team, a group of 21 crewmembers who work in our customer support department and also monitor Twitter in real-time and help direct customers to the proper resources.

Morgan works closely with our Real Time Recovery and Marketing teams, using many tools to keep in touch, and watch what customers are talking about with CoTweet, a platform where the group can view incoming mentions, tag different trends, and plan timed pushes, or to advise on how to best respond to different tweets.

Social media has helped JetBlue stay nimble and “small,” and Morgan has helped to reinforce that. A great example was a tweet that came in from Bike Portland in real-time, discussing a disgruntled customer’s comments that they were asked to pay our bike fee for his even though it was a folding bike that fit into his suitcase. The tweet came in at 1:53 p.m. on January 7. In just a few hours, we had responded to the tweet and started an internal conversation about our policy around this. By 8:13 a.m. the next morning, Morgan had helped to facilitate a policy change so that folding bikes in cases with standard bag dimensions were treated like any other checked bag and refund the fee for the customer that had helped bring it to our attention.

It’s not uncommon that one of Morgan’s tweets ends up in the news. Take the turtle story. Flights out of our home base of operations at JFK were delayed back in June because a population of diamondback terrapin turtles decided to take their morning stroll on the runway. Morgan tweeted, which gave the story increased visibility and brought the tale, as well as our tail, into the news.

Morgan’s effervescence shines through in JetBlue’s messaging; he was the original, and for a long time, the only voice of JetBlue on social media. Whether he helped to shape the friendly, fun, and informal voice of JetBlue or whether it shaped him is unclear; Morgan has been with JetBlue for so long and is so intertwined with the branding and voice of the company, we may never be able to separate the two.

It’s not always fun and games for Morgan, though; sometimes he and the team need to make some tough decisions when hard questions come through. “It’s really easy to want to jump to the rescue when we see a customer expressing concern. You think if you can really blow them away, they’ll tell all their friends… But we always try to think about the long term implications as well.” Morgan explains, “We always want to make sure we’re showing a great focus on customer service, but one that’s also consistent across the company. It’s easy to show an incredible display of service when you know lots of people are watching, but if that level of service is ONLY found online, that’s really a disservice to the rest of our customers. It’s often a greater challenge to make sure all our crewmembers have the same information and resources to help no matter where a customer heads for assistance.” The conviction to do the right thing is evident. Morgan and the Real Time Recovery team are often seen as the real time “eyes in the sky” for our internal teams, quickly reaching out to operations with information they gather from customers reporting from the field.

When Morgan isn’t on Twitter or Facebook (or while simultaneously monitoring social media, as he usually carries with him no less than four devices at a given time), he coordinates with our marketing team to plan upcoming events, helps to train others (including our CEO!) about how to set up and use their own social platforms, and speaks at conferences all across the country. Sometimes he even gets to have dinner with his wife.

Check out previous editions of A Day In the Life, and be sure to keep an eye out for the next up in our series!

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