Social media is a becoming the tool for the marketing toolbox, but should it be for mass transit?  There are many challenges and risks when taking a brand social or not.  The mass transit is very public industry and it has just begun to open itself to social media.  

Companies need to consider the risks and rewards prior to make the commitment. These include brand image, demographic, social media tools, confidential information, and commitment.  When a company decides to take a brand social, they are taking a step towards transparency. They need to be prepared to open themselves up to scrutiny and opinions that are public without their prior consent. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and social media has become that vehicle to express in a way that is easier than a phone call. Customers know that social media sites are constantly monitored and it is a way to interact without waiting. Will the company be ready to accept this and know how to react?  Will there be procedures in place to handle social damage control?

I think that it can definitely be a challenge to integrate a social component into an established brand, but I think that in many cases, with a proper integration and implementation plan, companies can really benefit from having a social presence. If a company is able to utilize social media, as well as its traditional marketing plan, it opens itself up to a multidimensional marketing strategy with the ability to attract potential customers and retain existing ones. However, companies need to be ready to commit to the time and effort it takes to make a successful transition into social media.

A great resource is an article by Jan Hertzberg and Matthew Thompson (2013), titled “Managing Your Company’s Social Media Risks.” The article includes tips on how companies can manage the risks and liabilities of social media. The four tips include understanding, strategy, involvement, and monitoring. (I have placed helpful videos to illustrate each tip.)

First, understand and assess risks by evaluating the risks and determining how they to manage them.


Second, define your strategy by creating a plan or procedure when issues arise.


Third, involve all the departments of the organization because each has an important role to protect the firm’s brand.


Fourth, monitor and manage feedback by listening to the customer and responding in a timely manner.


If you want to take your brand social, you need to understand your brand. It’s important to know your brand and determine making it more transparent will affect the company. Just like building a house, you need a strong foundation or else the house will crumble. Is your brand strong enough?





6 thoughts on “Know Your Brand Before Going Social

  1. Hello There,
    Nice Post. The videos are helpful in illustrating the process a company / industry should use when planning their social media strategy.
    When it comes to the transit industry, what do you feel is the biggest risk / con when using social media and how should this industry tackle that risk?

    1. Thanks for your comments amiashuri! The biggest risk for any company using social media is the lack of control. By having any social media page, you are allowing customers to post the good, bad and ugly about your company. The key is to develop policies and procedures on how to handle this when it happens.Should you delete it? Probably not a good idea, but you should always respond to it in a professional manner and determine how to be proactive so this does not happen again. The transit industry is interesting because you need to be timely and sometime time is not on your side. They key is find a way to communicate to your customers in a manner that is appropriate. If the train is late or a bus breaks down, do you communicate via social media, email or message/test alerts? That depends upon your ridership and discovering how they would like to be communicated. Knowing how they want to get this information is key and will help eliminate any issues.

  2. Hello Emily,
    Nice post. To me a key point in your blog is the possible consequences of brining the brand to social media. As you mention people opinions will be voice as the see it. The companies no longer have a filter to protect them that can cause bad publicity. What suggestions would you give to a company entering the social media world?

    1. Thanks for your comment Michael! It’s funny because my company is beginning to get more involved in social media beyond simply post, but finding ways to engage. The very first item on our list is to establish posting policy and procedures. We have helpful guidelines like using photos and hashtags each post and keeping it simply. No one want to read a novel! Also, we are developing a hot topic calendar of possible posts each month. Nothing ever goes as planned and customers are entitled to their opinions, so it is also necessary to establish a way to handle negative posts and what to do if we need to escalate the comments, such as who will reply and how soon after. Building a solid foundation with flexibility will help with those unexpected posts.

  3. I enjoyed your video and step by step tips on how to reduce the risk a company can have with social media. Do you feel by having more people in the company involved with the social media, it can become messy or be more beneficial?

    1. Thanks for your comment rmkpellerin! I feel all departments should be involved in social media in one form of another; however, there should only be one department responsible. For example, the customer services department may be in charge of a twitter page dedicated to answering questions about service and the public relations department would be in charge of the company’s main social media accounts. This will allow one consistent voice. Other departments are involved in more a committee role or if a situation arises that requires their attention.

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