Twitter is one of those things that has been around for awhile now. You have probably seen the icon on webpages begging you to follow along, but you might not fully understand what Twitter is, how it’s useful, and why you should be on it. Facebook seems to reign supreme, and the young, old, and everyone in between know how to use it. To boil it down, Twitter is another platform where people can connect with messages that are 140 characters (letters and spaces) or less. Today, I want to share a personal anecdote about why social media is increasingly important, and how Twitter helped me score 20,000 JetBlue “Trueblue” points.
I follow @JetBlue on Twitter. Why? Because once a week on Tuesday they release their JetBlue “Cheeps,” or cheap airfares that are only advertised on Twitter via their handle @JetBlueCheeps. I follow both because I like to travel and don’t want to miss any deals that might apply to me. I’ve been following them both for a few months now, but haven’t interacted with either account at all. Until yesterday.
Two days ago, there was a CNN travel article about Twitter and how airlines are using it effectively to resolve customer service issues, complaints, reschedules, and so forth. In some cases, it’s an easier and quicker method of getting in touch with an airline than standing in line at the airport. I let my Google Reader stalk the CNN travel section for me (yay technology), so of course I read this article. They mentioned that JetBlue and Virgin America are probably the best Tweeters out there airline-wise, and that JetBlue specifically has resources dedicated exclusively to social media (i.e. there is a person manning the @JetBlue handle on Twitter).
So yesterday, I’m thumbing through Twitter on my iPad, and I see a message from @JetBlue about their CEO @DavidJBarger conducting an in-air contest for 20,000 “Trueblue” points. He was on a flight from JFK to somewhere, and this contest was taking place at their cruising altitude. “Rad!” I thought, and wished I was on that flight. I replied to the Tweet and said “Maybe you should think about having this same contest on Friday during your flight from LGB–PDX at ohhh, 3:10p.m.,” a flight I’m going to be on. @JetBlue responded to me and said “Did you pull that flight out of thin air? Thanks for choosing JetBlue but we don’t think the CEO normally flies that route.” Clearly, this Tweet was just for me, and that was very cool. I wasn’t after a handout, and was happy that what I had read on CNN was true: they do monitor their Twitter account and they respond.
I’d learn the next morning that their social media staff aren’t the only ones who monitor the @JetBlue account. When I woke up, I had an @message from the CEO himself telling me he had copied the Director of Customer Loyalty via Twitter and asked him to deposit 20,000 “Trueblue” points into my account. I then had a follow-up message from @Tremdave requesting my “Trueblue” account number, which I gave, and less than 10 minutes later, the 20,000 miles were in my account, I was thanked for being a loyal JetBlue customer, and wished a pleasant journey on Friday. Now that’s what I call customer service!
There are a couple of things to garner here. First, why would JetBlue do this? They’re in the business of running an airline, not giving away free flights for no reason (the points they gave me are equivalent to two roundtrips, by the way). It’s actually genius psychological marketing. Yesterday, there I was with 228 “Trueblue” points in my account thinking, “What am I going to do with these? It’s going to be years before I collect enough points for a free flight.” Now, I have more than enough for a couple of flights, and I’m inclined to fly JetBlue so I can continually add to my balance. Plus, they’ve shown me that they do listen, they care about their customers, and they are interested in maintaining my loyalty. I like that. And they’ll like the cha-ching they get each time I book a flight with them from here on out, my plugs for them via Twitter, Facebook, this blog post, etc…, and the windfall of additional business that may come their way as a result. That’s how and why social media works; it’s a way to ensure your brand is consistently on the mind of consumers, that you organically pop up first when people Google your name, etc…
Before you rush out and create your own Twitter handle and try to pilfer miles or points from any airline, do realize that this was likely an isolated incident. I was at the right place, at the right time, and said something that resonated with someone who could make things happen. I don’t maintain that this is the norm, and I doubt it will ever happen again. Ironically though, I received an email yesterday from a friend offering to give me additional Russian cooking lessons at her home in New York, home of @JetBlue and the place where all of this originated. If nothing else, with a short 140-character message, Twitter helped to condense my world a bit; I’m thinking of using these gift flights to reach my next few cooking classes for @CulinaryHScotch. Are you following me yet?
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…