Ten years ago, someone was wrong on the internet.
And Morgan Johnston, sitting at his desk with the JetBlue communications team, wanted to set that person straight.
These were the early days of Twitter, and JetBlue had begun to monitor the platform, even if they weren’t hopping in yet to tell weary travelers, “We hear you.”
But here was this guy on Twitter mistaking JetBlue for ... EasyJet, the low-cost European airline. And associating JetBlue with one of EasyJet’s mishaps. Up with this, Johnston could not put.
“Would you mind if I started a Twitter account?” he asked his boss. “Someone is wrong on the internet. I must fix this!”
Johnston fired up @JetBlue, reached out to the early adopter, gently asked the user for evidence, and the wrong-facts-haver retreated. A triumph.
At first, the idea of a company directly tweeting at its customers was very strange.
“A couple of folks we reached out to were just blown away and frankly a little unnerved that the company they were traveling with was responding to them,” Johnston recalled. “You had to take that into account, which seems completely different now. Now, anytime anyone mentions a brand, they expect someone to be listening.”
Nowadays, people have gotten used to having back-and-forths with customer service representatives. In any given hour, JetBlue makes public contact with 10, 15, 20 different people. American Airlines receives 4500 mentions an hour, 70 to 80 percent of them on Twitter. Both companies staff their social teams with long-time employees who are familiar with the airlines’ systems. Both hire internally out of the “reservations” team, so they know how to rebook flights and make things happen. At American, the average social-media customer-support person has been at the company for 17 years.