How Amtrak is using social media
I spend a lot of time with Amtrak, I frequent the Northeast Regional route to Washington, DC, back up to New York and repeat. I also spend enough time on their website and consequently daydream about being responsible for Amtrak’s social media, promptly tweeting when a train will be late, initiating fun contests to get passengers involved while they’re on and off the train, and asking customers to share their favorite train stories. In fact, I’ve come close on multiple occasions to sending them a quick note “just wondering, who is in the charge of your social media? I have some ideas…” Then, thanks to this prompt, I found out they do all this, and more, on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Amtrak.
I’m shocked and pleased! Amtrak has creative contests, the page is colorful and engaging and they’re reaching out to their customers requesting feedback. But, given all the time I spend on their website, how did I miss their Facebook page? The link to their Facebook page is at the bottom of their main website, and it’s tiny. It sits next to their Twitter widget, but it’s also tiny. It’s impossible to notice unless you were looking. I can barely see it, can you?
The best part is, once you spend time on their Facebook page, you might (or not) discover they also have a YouTube Chanel! And, the welcome video is actually funny. It’s a man, in his cubicle, describing the channel and other ways to keep up with and be in touch with Amtrak!
Another important fact I learned while I was on the Facebook page, is that Amtrak has multiple Twitter accounts, in fact, they have specifically for passengers of the NE Regional route, @AmtrakNEC, alerting customers of delays or changes. I’m hoping it’s new, they only have 7 tweets. I’m glad they have this, but why doesn’t anyone know about it?
Amtrak tweets! Their main company handle is @Amtrak, described as:
Official Tweets for Amtrak by Will. Discover the nicer way to travel. With over 500 destinations and plenty of room to stretch and breathe, enjoy the journey.
With over 8 thousand followers, and over 500 tweets total, they’re active on Twitter. Amtrak is using the tool well. They are including catchy lines and questions, including links and promoting cheap train fares.
For example, here’s a tweet from early March:
Amtrak @Amtrak:March Madness has started! Did you know that we can take you to 7 of the 9 first round locations?
But, the only reason I discovered @AmtrakNEC was because @Amtrak retweeted a service report. “Will” seems to be doing well, but the question remains, why do the social media efforts feel so separate from the organization’s website? Why aren’t all these social media tools being promoted on their main website? It’s clear they’re still finding their way to incorporate social media, but it feels like two different organizations, doing similar things, operating under the same company name.
What do you think? Do you think their approach makes sense? If there’s anything you’ve been wanting to know, I’m happy to include your question in my eventual email to Amtrak!