Every day, more than 500,000 people in British Columbia board a TransLink bus, ferry, or train for a safe, on-time commute. Recognized as one of the most innovative transportation companies in the world, TransLink uses social media to stay in constant contact with riders, the community, and stakeholders in government and regional planning entities.

Since 2013, TransLink has used social media to listen, learn, build partnerships, create awareness, and improve customer experiences. Here’s a look behind the scenes of this strategy.

1,385%

increase in social engagement

5%

improvement in brand sentiment

7.5%

increase in ridership

How they did it

Social Listening

Using social listening to gain customer insights and spot new opportunities

In 2018, TransLink began using an integration between Hootsuite and social media intelligence platform Talkwalker to monitor, categorize, and analyze conversations about TransLink on social media. The three-person social media team uses this data to make the rider experience better, change people’s perceptions, and give people more transit options.

Social listening makes it possible to understand, respond to, and build upon what riders need. This capability amplifies riders’ stories and voices during policy negotiations and even legislation creation—and it also led to one of the most creative, impactful, and loved marketing campaigns that TransLink has ever run.

Every morning, we do a scan of social media to observe customer trends. We examine general feedback and seek to understand potential issues. TalkWalker and Hootsuite provide the lion’s share of content in our scans. We’ve automated what employees used to do manually and can detect sentiment that we previously missed.

Photo of Robert Willis
Robert Willis Manager, Social Media & Digital Content TransLink

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Improving engagement with rich content and customer polls

Improving Engagement

To make it easier for their customer information teams to create attractive and engaging posts, TransLink set up a central content library of approved content they can use. As a result, teams are creating more image-rich tweets and interactive polls—and so far, this rich content has yielded an impressive 1,385 percent increase in social engagement.

Social listening also illuminated an opportunity to run an innovative campaign. As TransLink’s social media and digital content manager Robert Willis reports, when Visa approached TransLink as a partner to promote awareness around the transit line’s credit card and payment features functions, the TransLink team asked, “How do we make this fun and engaging?”

Willis and his team used social media to brainstorm with the company’s followers—and soon, actor Seth Rogen (who lives in Vancouver) chimed into the conversation. This led to a partnership on two initiatives: the Visa partnership and a series of rider etiquette announcements. The process resulted in a true collaboration, and had the chance to happen because of social media.

Launching a social campaign that improved brand sentiment—and rider etiquette

Results

The Seth Rogen campaign helped TransLink improve brand sentiment, boost positive sentiment, and lower negative sentiment.

The story behind these stats is that rider etiquette also improved following the campaign, as reported by transit users on social media. With approximately 10 percent of TransLink’s communication inflow on social media being about rider etiquette, these changes demonstrate that a campaign that began on social media ended up having tangible results in the daily lives of TransLink’s users.

The results

For TransLink, results come down to each individual rider. Top-line metrics connect initiatives to results, and are driving additional improvements behind the scenes. Improvements in internal processes make it easier for TransLink staff to spot changes in rider sentiment and respond accordingly.

In addition to increases in followers, engagement, and brand perception, TransLink also considers anecdotal and qualitative measures of the team’s success. One interesting finding? Willis reports that TransLink’s riders will stand up to criticism on social media.

When some people complain, others come to defend us. That gives me a sense of pride in what we do. It shows that we have touched someone to the extent that they have taken time out of their days to do this.

Photo of Robert Willis
Robert Willis Manager, Social Media & Digital Content TransLink

With a powerful social listening platform in place and a just-wrapped social media campaign that made a measurable difference in the lives of its riders, TransLink is positioned to continue discovering new opportunities to connect with its audience—and to act on those opportunities.

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