TSA social media experts listen, learn and inform

Friday, June 12, 2020
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One and a half million questions asked by the traveling public and answered by AskTSA is a notable milestone. It’s even more impressive when you consider a forward leaning TSA was the first U.S. government agency to embrace social care back in September, 2015.

Before COVID-19 severely impacted air travel, passengers asked TSA approximately 2,000 questions per day via Facebook, Messenger and Twitter. On average, a response from an @AskTSA representative takes about a minute. With a 92% customer satisfaction score, that’s speedy and effective service.

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The quality and accuracy of @AskTSA answers is dependent on team leads who turn to subject matter experts (SMEs) for technical guidance. Similarly, when SMEs want a broader picture of what’s going on in the Twittersphere, they lean on the team’s social listening capabilities.

“Social listening allows AskTSA to search for specific words posted about TSA on all social media accounts,” said Sonja Armstrong, AskTSA Team Lead. “We’re able to see what folks are saying about the agency.” In some cases, inaccurate information can be addressed quickly.

When a passenger tweeted misinformation about TSA to a reporter at a news outlet, AskTSA Team Lead Kim Littlefield immediately flagged the message and contacted TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz. The two coordinated closely to get the correct information both to the initiator of the message as well as the reporter.   

In a second tweet by the same passenger, this time directed to @AskTSA, the passenger said he was taking a business trip and asked if TSA screeners are being tested for coronavirus on a regular basis. A social care member was able to provide an accurate response in a timely manner.

Social listening aids in identifying potential threats which are routed directly to TSA officers at the Transportation Security Operations Center for their awareness. It also informs the team if travelers are experiencing something different from what the agency expects at a checkpoint.

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“We can create more relevant content on the social media side of the house once we know what users are saying, what they care about or how they may feel about our processes and procedures at any given time,” said Armstrong.

The team is able to quickly see trends and analyze data if various travelers ask the same question or post concerns repeatedly about a particular topic. The social media team then strategically plans messaging on TSA’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to help inform travelers.

Trending topics on messages sent directly to @AskTSA and via social listening are shared nightly with leadership and those who have a vested interest in the public’s perception of the agency. The data offers valuable insights to our team members who then provides updated guidance or corrects misinformation.

“I believe if you take care of your people, your people will take care of the Agency,” said Janis Burl, Social Media Branch Manager. “I really enjoy the daily challenge of social media and I am fortunate to have a great team of professionals.”