For the last two years, Cincinnati Metro has focused on increasing fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, as well as improving the quality of its customer interaction on these social media tools. The efforts have paid off for Metro, with the number of Facebook fans growing from 43 to nearly 1,000 and Twitter followers increasing from 1,500 to more than 3,000.
Although originally used as a way to provide detour and route information, Cincinnati Metro changed its focus and added noteworthy news and relevant local information in its tweets and posts. Metro also posts videos, like how to use new fareboxes, as well as photos of events, like ribbon cuttings at transit centers or new bus unveilings.
In addition to engaging followers with a mix of posts, it began to treat social media as an additional customer service communications tool. Cincinnati Metro responds to customer questions and complaints and works with the customer service department to resolve issues whenever possible. For example, when a customer tweeted about an umbrella forgotten on a bus, a strategic communications department employee worked with an operations employee to reunite the customer with her umbrella on the same day.
Facebook and Twitter are also very useful when winter weather strikes, sometimes causing delays and detours to normal routes. Through an automated system, updates provided by Cincinnati Metro’s Radio Control Center are provided directly to the Twitter feed. Riders are encouraged to check Facebook and Twitter during inclement weather because they can be updated faster than Cincinnati Metro’s website.
To help support an advertising campaign highlighting the tagline, “People you know… go*Metro,” each advertisement was posted on Cincinnati Metro’s Facebook page. One of the advertisements received 24 “likes,” two shares and seven positive comments. A local blog,Family Friendly Cincinnati posted that they love the ads — feedback that the marketing department can use when it evaluates the campaign’s effectiveness.
In addition, other posts provide Cincinnati Metro with anecdotal feedback on services and programs. For example, one Metro fan posted about her happiness with Cincinnati Metro’s program with a local university. She said, “I save $500 per school year on just the parking — and that $500 is before gas, car repair, etc.”
Cincinnati Metro’s Twitter account receives positive and negative feedback from its riders regularly. Reporters have reached out to Cincinnati Metro on its Twitter account and news outlets have retweeted information posted on Cincinnati Metro’s Twitter account.
For tech-savvy riders, using Twitter can be more convenient than making a phone call or sending an email. When there is a complaint, Cincinnati Metro works closely with the customer service department and operations to verify and examine the situation and provide a response to the customer. Its unique and effective approach on Twitter was featured in an article on Cincinnati’s online publication, Soapbox, and was profiled as a case study by a Cincinnati-area social media expert on Examiner.com.
Cincinnati Metro Twitter follower @RubySmilesKnits, who often tweets about her experiences with the bus service, said, "I love being able to use Twitter to communicate with Metro."
Cincinnati Metro is planning to continue its social media efforts and will focus more on social media measurement in the future. Using Facebook’s insights tools and looking into available analytics for Twitter will help ensure that these social media efforts are getting the maximum impact. Whether sharing news or responding to customer concerns, Facebook and Twitter are two tools that are helping Cincinnati Metro better engage with its riders.
Senior Marketing Coordinator
As the senior marketing coordinator at Commuter Advertising, I have the pleasure of running our social media outlets. Commuter Advertising is a transit media company that creates, manages and sells time- and location-based audio sponsorship messages on trains and buses in partnership with public transit agencies. I am responsible for updating the company’s social media outlets on a daily basis. I have learned a tremendous amount from my experience in running various outlets such as: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. I tend to focus most attention on Facebook and Twitter. The key is to always engage your audience and direct the majority of tweets or posts toward them — whether that means asking a question or posting/tweeting something engaging and interesting. We want to create conversation and buzz about our company — which is the goal of social media.