JetBlue: Social Is Not ‘Lowest-Common Denominator’ Advertising

MorganJetBlueJetBlue, the New York-based airline servicing 78 cities with more than 800 flights per day, stands as one of the first and only carriers to institute a Customer Bill of Rights. In line with that theme is JetBlue’s social media strategy, which initially began as a means of engagement to connect with flyers on Facebook and Twitter and eventually moved into the realm of social media marketing.

The question for the airline was, “How do you do it responsibly?” said Morgan Johnston, manager of corporate communications for JetBlue Airways, the airline’s point person on social media usage for internal marketing, communications and customer resources purposes. “We weren’t just going to throw everything out there and we weren’t going to treat (social) like lowest-common denominator advertising.”

He added, “We wanted to make sure we maintained what made us successful in the past, which was that individual connection. Targeting niches (and) that individual and making them feel as if we were there for them. That’s kind of how marketing got involved in social media” and thus, how JetBlue now bridges the gap between paid, owned and earned media.

Although Johnston acknowledges that JetBlue has played around with media buys on Facebook, which has yielded spikes in engagement through that channel, the airline wants loyal customers who are “liking” and sharing brand content “because they want to” and, therefore, takes a hybrid approach to media planning. “The right thing to do, in terms of our promotions…is making sure it’s not just constant giveaways or something like that, which would lead to mismanaged expectations,” he said.

For instance, JetBlue worked with creative agency Mullen last fall for a PSA-esque Election Protection campaign encouraging citizen-flyers to get out and vote with the chance to win a free flight should their candidate of choice flounder. Election Protection blended owned social, digital and in-flight media with paid media efforts via TV, digital, radio, mobile and events.

When it came to routine social campaign development in the form of sweepstakes and one-time promotions, JetBlue wanted to bring more resources in-house and focus its agency investments on broader strategic goals and putting metrics to future work, as opposed to “creating campaigns that may not be reused or thrown away,” said Gordon Evans, VP of product marketing for Marketing Cloud.

In order to build promotional microsites and quickly deliver and execute on campaigns in-house, JetBlue tapped Marketing Cloud tool Buddy Media for content and creation around Facebook campaigns. One pillar of Buddy Media is “ensuring a global and local team is on-message with the latest campaign messaging and with managing the expenses of creating and executing social campaigns,” Evans said.

In addition, JetBlue grew its use of the tool to include social publishing and conversion tracking, social application publishing and analytics to compare multiple promotions. Nucleus Research found the average annual cost-benefit to be $72,916 with a calculated 140% ROI lift in direct and indirect (such as standardizing messaging across units) benefit to the brand.

Although Johnston said “it’s certainly possible” that JetBlue would expand its use of Marketing Cloud into other product areas including social listening tool Radian6, social advertising on and marketing automation with the recent ExactTarget acquisition, “I wouldn’t want to speculate… at the end of the day, the tools are there to help us support our customers. If there’s utility, we’ll certainly make use of it.”

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