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Social Media Strategy at VIA Rail
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Social Media Strategy at VIA Rail


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This is a copy of the presentation that I give at various events to help explain how we established our social media strategy at VIA Rail. …

This is a copy of the presentation that I give at various events to help explain how we established our social media strategy at VIA Rail.

It provides an introductory guide to establishing a social media program at any organization, as well as details on measuring campaigns, and advancing the program after the launch.

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  • 1. Social Media Strategy at VIA Rail
  • 2. About VIA Rail
    • An independent Crown Corporation established in 1977, VIA Rail Canada operates the national passenger rail service on behalf of the Government of Canada.
    • Operates up to 497 trains weekly on 12,500 kilometres of track, and serves 450 communities across the country, from coast to coast and north to Hudson Bay.
    • VIA carried over 4 million passengers in 2010.
    • Infrastructure includes:
      • 396 passenger cars;
      • 78 active locomotives;
      • 159 railway stations;
      • 4 modern maintenance facilities,
    • VIA employs some 3,000 people.
    • 2010 operating deficit of over 260 million dollars.
    • Since 2007, VIA has received $923 million – the biggest capital investment in VIA Rail ’ s history.
    • Changes to trains, tracks and stations – the renaissance of passenger rail service in Canada.
  • 3. Social Media Strategy at VIA Rail
    • How to setup your social media strategy:
    • Design a governance structure
    • Train employees
    • Engage
    • Measure
  • 4. The Early Days
    • Twitter used to push sales, travel info and company news.
    • Facebook presence through a personal profile (before corporate pages).
    • No engagement, monitoring or response.
  • 5. The Start of Something Special
  • 6. Learning the Basics
  • 7. Training Regimen
    • Editorial Committee
            • Refresh existing content
            • Create an editorial calendar
    • Champions Committee
            • Tone and manner
            • Response evaluation workflow
            • Social Media Monitoring
            • and Response tool
  • 8. The Nitty Gritty
    • Monitoring and Responding
    • Community Manager engages on a day-to-day basis
    • If needed, agency can provide support outside of business hours
    • Manage your customers ’ expectations
  • 9. The New Policy on the Block
    • The Social Media Policy
    • Manage personal and professional social media activity
    • Encourage the use of social media by setting rules and guidelines
    • Restrict access to corporate accounts
  • 10. How Do You Measure Success?
    • Basic Measurement
    • How many mentions per day?
    • Are they positive, negative, or neutral?
    • What are the trends?
    • Campaign Measurement
    • Decide on the purpose
    • Establish benchmarks
    • Compare results
  • 11. A Case Study in Campaign Measurement
    • Social Media Week (SMW) is an international conference that takes place across 12 cities worldwide between September 19th and September 23rd, 2011.
    • SMW allows anyone (businesses or individuals) to organize and host an event related to social media and provides assistance with planning and promoting.
    • VIA wanted to:
      • share our social media strategy;
      • engage with the new generation of industry thought leaders, and;
      • create a business case for the value of social media, including benchmarks to measure future campaigns against.
  • 12. What ’s the R.O.I.?
    • What ’s the R.O.I. on Blogging?
    • VIA used unique hashtags on Twitter to track the English blogger (#VIAyvr) and the French blogger (#VIAvcr). Combined, the two hashtags generated:
        • 241 messages (171 broadcast tweets, 44 @ replies, 26 retweets);
        • 1,285,221 impressions;
        • 38,401 people reached.
      • Additionally, the bloggers produced over 140 photos, 4 videos (including 2 videos > 2 minutes each, with 200 views combined to date) and 3 blog posts.
      • Traditional media value of 1.3M impressions: $10,000-$20,000
      • Traditional production value for print, radio and TV: $5,000-$200,000
      • Out of pocket cost to VIA: $2,500
  • 13. What ’s the R.O.I.?
      • What ’s the R.O.I. on Event Tweeting?
      • Prior to the event, the registration page generated 79 Facebook Likes, 382 Google +1 ’s, and 36 tweets.
      • A unique hashtag (#SMWbaiu) was used for the event and it generated the following results (according to TweetReach):
        • 268 messages (182 broadcast tweets, 36 @ replies and 50 retweets);
        • 398,889 impressions;
        • 86,687 people reached.
      • Traditional media value of 400K impressions: $3,300-$6,600.
      • Traditional production value for 400K impressions: $5,000-$200,000
      • Event cost to VIA: $18,000
      • Incremental event tweeting cost to VIA: $0
      • The hashtag made the trending topics of Vancouver. This means that, across the whole city, #SMWbaiu was one of the most talked about topics.
  • 14. The Framework
    • Create a governance structure
    • Consider a consultant or agency for additional assistance
    • Evaluate your internal resources
    • Create the necessary working committees
    • Train for social media basics and implementation
    • Develop a set of internal rules or policies
    • Measure and analyze your activity
  • 15. What ’s Next? Becoming a “Social Organization”
    • Internalize informal feedback – Using social data collected from our fans and followers to create an internal “feedback loop”, executing product and service changes.
    • Procure an advanced social media management tool – Increasing our ability to monitor, measure and report.
    • Establish our crisis management policies and procedures.
    • Create an executive blog – VIA executives share their views on the company, our products and services, and the travel and tourism industry.
    • Employee engagement and empowerment – Basic social media training to advance the knowledge of all employees, demonstrating how they can use social media personally and professionally.
    • Crowdsourcing – Asking for suggestions from our community members, using open-ended questions.
    • Trendspotting – Looking for opportunities and threats using the social data VIA collects daily.
    • Network expansions – Strategies for and increased use of Foursquare, YouTube and Google Plus.
    • Create an external wiki and internal social network.
    • Tweetups – Organized meetups with our online communities.
  • 16. Thank You
    • Questions? In 140 characters or less, please.