INIT, Innovations in Transportation Inc.
Marketing & Events Manager
Recently I read an article entitled 26 Promising Social Media Stats for Small Businesses. Based on research from Zoomerang, an online survey and poll service, the top three reasons businesses leverage social media are to connect with customers, enhance visibility and promote themselves.
For INIT, understanding and connecting with our customers is priority No. 1. Establishing our presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has provided us with better tools to make that happen. However, as we have stepped into the social media arena, we have also recognized a shift in how we accomplish our goals. Instead of expecting our customers to seek out our products and services, we have found three ways to help us connect while bringing something of value to our customers.
1. Education about new technology and industry events.
As a business, the information we offer is different from that of a transit agency, but ultimately we connect with our customers in the same way — by giving them information they need in a usable format. For instance, recently we wanted to educate our followers about INIT’s new electronic fare collection products. To do this, we created 2-D bar codes (QR or Quick Response codes) that we embedded with personal v-Cards and sent to every attendee of the APTA Annual Meeting & Expo. We posted links on our Facebook page that led folks to a page on our website explaining how to use the personal codes to win an Apple iPad. At the show, the personal codes were scanned at our electronic fare card reader which printed out the holder’s contact information. The information was placed in the drawing, while a second ticket printed out the time and place that the drawing would be held. Using Facebook helped us roll out a very successful campaign and educate our customers about our latest technology, while advertising an important industry event.
2. Promotion of our customer’s accomplishments.
Building long-term relationships with our customers is something we work hard to accomplish at INIT. What better way to do that than to follow them on Facebook and Twitter and share the great things they are doing? For instance, INIT customer Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) was experiencing record-breaking ridership numbers onboard its new light rail system, The Tide. Normal ridership tallies had already been running above projected figures at an average of 4,800 daily. However, the weekend of the Grand Illumination Christmas parade in downtown Norfolk, ridership reached an outstanding 12,000. The numbers not only confirmed the success of the light rail system, but also gave INIT an opportunity to publicize its automatic passenger counting (APC) technology employed by HRT on board the light rail vehicles. In this way, we promoted our customers’ successes and also let our followers know the benefits of using our technology.
3. Fostering camaraderie among staff and customers.
The most interesting aspect of our social media experience is the way we connect with our domestic and international colleagues and customers through our personal and company event postings. INIT is a global company operating in several different countries and time zones. We do not always get to interact on a personal level or to show our human side.
Through Facebook we have been able to post our community projects, in-house events, staff accomplishments and fun contests. Whether it is the Annual Chili Cook-off Competition, a Backyard BBQ or the Halloween Costume Contest, the photos and contest winners are our way of sharing our semi-private side and showing our customers that although we are a technology-focused company (essentially a bunch of geeks), we definitely know how to have fun! In this way we foster a sense of kinship and connection with our customers and colleagues while showing them we are approachable and easy to work with.
San Diego County, Calif.
North County Transit District (NCTD)