In 2011 Annual Conference, Monday

Breakout 1A (4)
In jumping into social media, CSX, like many other companies stepped in slowly and cautiously before moving full speed ahead. Of course, before moving forward, take time to monitor what is out there, watch what other companies are doing and develop your plan based on those experiences and your own priorities.

Carla’s advice for those wanting to jump onto the social media train is to do so gradually. Don’t be overwhelmed by it and do it in small steps. For instance, set up a Facebook page that you post company messaging before allowing comments.

Like anything, there are downsides of mismanagement or lack of engagement:

1. Employ rules of engagement for your employees
Example: Chrysler employee who accidentally tweeted expletive on corporate account, not personal account.

2. Be ready for customers or employees to rant about bad experiences and be prepared to either pull comments from the page or have a plan for responding to them.

CSX developed several goals for their social media plan to consistently engage online communities across key platforms to:

  1. Forge and nourish deeper relationships with established and prospective customers, external influencers (mainstream journalists, bloggers, community leaders, etc) and employees
  2. Enhance its reputation
  3. Listen to communities that matter to CSX

Gauging Success:

  1. Relationships-track and analyze newly developed relationships with key stakeholders, for example bloggers who report stories about the industry
  2. Traction of messages—watch stakeholders responses to status updates, videos, tweets
  3. General analytics:
    • There are numerous tools and services to assist with measuring what is being said about your company from Google Alerts, Cloud and Social mention to name a few.
    • Evaluate likes, retweets, comments and more;
    • Evaluate social participation outcomes such as measuring growth of Facebook followers, etc.

CSX Uses Social Media to:

  • Initiate a series of online contests that encourage direct interactions with the company and the submission of user-generated content from brand enthusiasts (1,000 to 7,000 followers) and found that very few of the new followers dropped.
  • Share its unique corporate storyline
  • Educate internal stakeholders on the value and benefits of social media (cost effectiveness) and positions it as an affordable alternative for measureable successes
  • Emphasize relationship development
  • Integrate messaging across platforms, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
  • Profile customer products and highlight their successes via prominent CSX digital properties Ex: customers often tweet positive news about their brands/products that @CSX can retweet, as well as post a short blurb on Facebook.
  • Direct engagement: CSX can reach out to customers via social media, especially thru new functionalities offered in FB (i.e. pages are more like profiles)

Carla Groleau is Communications Director for CSX Transportation. In this role, Groleau focuses on media relations, crisis communications and social media. Although based in Jacksonville, the site of the company’s headquarters, Groleau covers many states across the U. S. as well as portions of the Fortune 250 transportation company’s international interests. Prior to joining CSX, Groleau’s communications career began as an Air Force public affairs specialist where she spent seven years of active duty serving in the U.S. and overseas. She is also a Department of Defense Information School alum, has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in business administration. Groleau is also past president of the Florida Public Relations Association’s Nature Coast Chapter.

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