In the recent days, the story of Steven Slater, the disgruntled JetBlue employee who jumped out of a plane using the emergency escape hatch has taken the social web by storm. At some level, the common man can relate to this working Joe’s experience. This has resulted in some interesting discussions around whether he was right or wrong in his actions as well as a backlash of JetBlue’s official handling of this incident.

This story is an interesting case of how social media can be used to diffuse tension when a negative event happens. It is important to note that such a situation can arise for organizations of any size operating within any industry. Preparedness and awareness is the key to be able to respond effectively. Within a few days of this incident (that took place on August 9th), the term JetBlue has gone from being a noun to a verb. As in “to go JetBlue” on someone or something.

Take a look at some real-time search results we picked up recently at MutualMind while monitoring this situation:

We also observed a few interesting things from our monitoring platform:

Spike in JetBlue’s Share of Voice

There was a big reaction from the public which put JetBlue’s mentions ahead of its competition. Prior to this event, American Airlines was the top dog when it came to the volume of mentions for US airlines. Since August 9th, JetBlue became the top trending topic among airlines.

Before the incident (August 1st – August 8th):

After the incident (August 9th onwards):

Official Response

It took 2 days for JetBlue to come up with a response in the form of a well-crafted blog post. JetBlue decided not to engage on Twitter or Facebook for obvious reasons!

Impact on Reach

Compared with the past, this episode gave a boost to the rate at which JetBlue adds Twitter followers. The rate of change went up from 37 new followers per day for August 1st – August 8th to 147 new followers per day for August 9th – August 12th.

Shift in Sentiment

Before this event, the JetBlue brand used to have more positive sentiments than negative ones overall. During this episode, the ratio has evened out (9% negative, 9% positive) which shows a split amongst the general public about the different aspects of this story.

Sentiments before and after:

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