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.

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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Social Media Strategy at VIA Rail

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