JetBlue Airways and social media


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My NCA 2010 presentation on JetBlue

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JetBlue Airways and social media

  1. 1. Is the flight crew on board?: The effect of digital media on organizational structure A case study on JetBlue Airlines
  2. 2. Background • Fortune 100 companies in the US, Europe and Asia use social media to reach publics – 79% use at least one platform – 20% use all four platforms – 65% use Twitter – 33% use corporate blogs – 54% use Facebook Fan Pages – 50% use YouTube Burston-Marsteller 2010
  3. 3. • Announcements and news • Events and promotions • Customer service • Conversations with other users and companies • Monitor what is said about them and competitors • Environmental scanning, external research • Make company executives available in real time Reasons companies use social media
  4. 4. • Social media research has focused on… – Growing use in organizations – Use of blogs – Overall impact on public relations – Adoption of social media tools by practitioners – Practitioners’ individual perceptions of how digital media have impacted their roles and the industry – Implementation of social media in nontraditional communications programs Research problem
  5. 5. • Focus on organizational theory organizational social structure – Three components • Division of labor • Hierarchy of authority • Formalized rules and procedures Solving the research problem
  6. 6. Typical organizational structure
  7. 7. 1. How have communicators’ job descriptions changed? 2. How are social media assignments carried out by communication department employees? 3. Have organizational hierarchies changed? 4. Have social media polices been set in place about using digital media in the workplace? Research questions
  8. 8. Case in point… • Founded in 1999 • Airline industry leader known for innovation • Emphasizes customer service and satisfaction • Early social media adapter • Stands out in the digital space – 1,596,873 million Twitter followers – 417,900 Facebook Fans
  9. 9. • Public relations department owns social media • Practitioners perceive their roles as more important Literature review
  10. 10. • Organizational theory – Division of labor • Practitioners adapting their roles to perform digital media tasks • New breed of professional with technical and managerial expertise Literature review
  11. 11. • Organizational theory – Hierarchy or authority • Individual practitioners perceive their power and influence are enhanced by the extent to which they use the Web / digital media • No research on whether this power is institutionalized Literature review
  12. 12. • Organizational theory – Formalized rules and procedures • Some organizations are completely banning the use of digital media • Some organizations have policies in place to give employees a set of guidelines to follow while trying at the same time not to stifle their creativity or initiative to create value for the organization Literature review
  13. 13. • Case study – Strengths • Considers explanatory “how” and “why” questions in a context-rich environment • Investigator has little control • Various sources of evidence – Weaknesses • Interpretative, subjective Method
  14. 14. • Documents: – Blogs posts, news articles, Web pages, video and audio interviews / content, case studies • Interviews: – Manager Corporate Communications • Observations: – JetBlue team Twitter stream, Facebook Fan Page posts, Flickr Pool, YouTube videos Data collection & analysis
  15. 15. Results
  16. 16. • New responsibilities • Evolved practitioner  Practitioner 2.0 Q 1: How have the job descriptions of communicators changed?
  17. 17. • No training on new responsibilities, practitioners are taking it upon themselves or collaborate to evolve together It’s sort of expected that we’re all going to have a certain amount of acumen in that area anyway. And so we’ve kind of evolved in that. We also tend to be a pretty young team who is already in that space. - Morgan Johnston, Manager Corporate Communications Discussion
  18. 18. • Cross-departmental work • Flexible framework. • Outsourcing Q 2: How are digital media assignments carried out by members of the communication department?
  19. 19. • Cross-departmental cooperation is a must if social media is to be part of the equation • Department (s) must remain flexible, practice letting go of control of the message with PR still hanging on to the reigns Discussion
  20. 20. • Horizontal collaboration with other departments • Vertical collaboration with executives • Centralized structure, collaborative environment Q 3: Have organizational hierarchies changed?
  21. 21. • Organizational hierarchies have not changed but… – Social media helps get PR and C-level executives, dominant coalition closer together – Public relations must still earn its stripes Discussion
  22. 22. • Organizational hierarchies have not changed but… – Social media has helped PR department earn the right to influence decision-making in other departments Discussion More and more departments have become aware of [social media] and have approached us and said, “how can we use these sorts of tools to make what we have to say a little bit more appealing and a little more interesting?” [Social media] happened to be of utility for us. We’re happy to work with other work groups to see if there is some potential and utility for them. - Morgan Johnston, Manager Corporate Communications
  23. 23. • Existing Web policies • JetBlue University Q 4: Have polices been set in place about using digital media in the workplace?
  24. 24. • JetBlue’s existing Web policies • JetBlue University: Social Media has created the need and the opportunity to be more cohesive internally We want to make sure [our employees] are responsive and responsible about what they’re doing in these spaces. There are also certain levels of legal requirement that we need to be aware of so we’re really in the process of cementing down what that looks like. Without too much detail of exactly what it runs down to it’s, “don’t be stupid.” - Morgan Johnston, Manager Corporate Communications Discussion
  25. 25. • Social media has been a good fit with the existing organizational culture • Emphasis is not on the tools but on what can be achieved by using them • Practitioners and departments have had to adapt • Integration & more cohesion are necessary if JetBlue is to keep up with the customers’ demands and the fast pace of social media Conclusion
  26. 26. Revised organizational structure
  27. 27. • One interview • Limited access to internal documents • Live documents Limitations
  28. 28. • Differences between men and women carrying out digital media tasks in the organization due to the notion that men are more technologically adept • Consider more organizations • More interviews • New social media and PR theories Future research direction