Laurie Meacham (@LaurieAMeacham) is the Leader of JetBlue‘s Social Media and Customer Commitment Team.
She was a featured presenter at the most recent Social Fresh social media conference, in Orlando. Her session focused on how JetBlue views social media engagement and gets such an amazing response from their fans.
How JetBlue Generates Social Media Engagement That Their Fans Love
JetBlue does not look at customer service as just a list of transactions. They view each social media fan conversation as an opportunity.
They measure. But they don’t measure some of the typical metrics that you might expect, like response rate.
JetBlue can, of course, tell you that they average about 10 minutes response time to quality brand mentions. And they can tell you that they respond to roughly 15% of all comments they get in social. Many of these are customer service pings that they get on a regular basis.
But those are not numbers they shoot for. JetBlue wants smart engagement that will add value and help their customers. Especially when they aren’t necessarily already having an issue or crisis of some sort.
So what is their social media engagement goal then?
“JetBlue’s social media goal is for a truly organic experience–people talking to people.” – Laurie Meacham
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Meacham estimates there are between 1,500 and 1,600 mentions of JetBlue daily. The challenge is to respond to the right messages and when they think they can create stories that people want to talk about.
It Starts With Building The Right Social Media Team
The JetBlue social media team is diverse with a wide range of skills and passions. They already brand advocates and are trained in customer service — they don’t hire folks who aren’t. Their experience and collaboration range from marketing, corporate communications, to customer service.
JetBlue started with a highly-collaborative team of four and began truly focusing on building relationships in 2009. And they all worked 24/7. It was a start, and soon Meacham knew she had to build a bigger team.
They knew they had to scale their efforts, but wanted to ensure they grew their team with people who shared the same idea of ‘caring’ and could spread it to their wider community.
Meacham emphasized that “your social team needs to have some level of PR understanding and be able to be the ‘canary in the coal mines’ to recognize bigger issues.”
They trained their social media managers in all aspects of JetBlue, from PR training to understanding the industry and how the logistics of airtravel work.
They created a team that could be themselves and that they could trust to be spontaneous and creative.
Here are four tips Meacham gave that JetBlue uses well to engage their customer in unique and memorable ways.
1. Be Yourself, Build Relationships
When JetBlue social media team members go through training they are taught to be themselves. They have all the customer service and PR training they need to be able to handle any crisis or touchy issues, but they are encouraged to speak to customers like their friends would. Each member has their own voice that is a little different, but it is always in the JetBlue voice.
They are encouraged to build relationships with customers one social media interaction at a time. And to try to get the most out of those touch-points.
One example of this is when a JetBlue customer, @GavinDonovan, tweeted to them on a few occasions that he would like to have his theme song play when boards his plane, specifically Hulk Hogan’s entrance music.
He did not have a flight booked at the time. But the JetBlue team stayed in touch and 4 months later, when Gavin boarded his plane in Dallas, his Hulk Hogan theme music was there to welcome him aboard.
2. Don’t Shy Away From Unique Opportunities To Engage
Here is an example of JetBlue responding to a tweet that a lot of business might ignore. It is not a customer service request or a question. It is just overzealous praise of JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK.
Their process for engagement isn’t based on approvals, so it leads to more spontaneous and creative engagement. So a social media team member was able to reply to this tweet without thinking to much about it.
They took the opportunity to make a memorable experience for this customer. And they were funny in a classy way.
And in order to accomplish this, they have to train, trust, and empower their social media managers to really be themselves.
3. Speak Their Language
JetBlue speaks to the community on their language. This supports customers telling their friends about the interactions. The customer feels more connected to them because they are using their language and not some kind of corporate or customer service language.
Here is an example of JetBlue putting in some extra effort to speak the language of their customer. Someone tweeted about flying JetBlue and not getting dysentery. This was a geeky reference to the old computer game Oregon Trail.
The problem was that the first social media team member that saw this did not recognize the reference. But he knew there had to be something to it. So he asked the rest of the team if anyone knew what the customer was talking about. One of his team members got it right away and responded with another geeky Oregon Trail reference.
The team came together and collaborated to help make an impact on the customer experience.
4. Have A Team That’s Collaborative
Meacham recommends following this simple rule “Use your resources.” And not just within a “social media team” but company wide.
Marketing initiatives are shared and collaborated with all team members at JetBlue.
A JetBlue customer, Paul Brown, sent the company a valentine note on Twitter. They create a loyalty badge and a poem (top left image below). JetBlue’s social team connected with their design team and the company that runs their loyalty program software and quickly created the actual loyalty badge (bottom right image below) so that Paul could get it on his JetBlue account when he logs in.
Building An Engaged Network
Meacham emphasized that for JetBlue it is all about the network. They are working to connect one-on-one with as many of their customers in as many unique ways as possible.
So instead of just having almost 2 million followers on Twitter, they have an engaged network of customers ready to interact with the brand in a positive way. And ready to talk about those experiences to their friends.
JetBlue creates a bank of goodwill with their customers knowing that they will need to ask for that goodwill in return when they can’t help someone out. It is easier not to stress about that next rain delay when you have had these unique experiences before hand.
JetBlue looks for opportunities to make their customer experience a little better, a little easier to handle when things don’t go the best way.
“What we’re doing through Twitter is no different from what we do face-to-face.” – Laurie Meacham
Below you can watch Laurie Meacham’s full Social Fresh Conference presentation: