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Online Trends

Published August 28th 2018

#SouthernFail: How Getting On Board With Campaigns Could Help a Troubled Railway Company’s Reputation

Being a community manager for Southern Rail can't be easy. Marcella Homma is on a mission to help improve positivity levels around the train provider.

From my experience, dealing with Southern Rail has never been entirely stress-free – I can’t believe that anyone who uses the trains in the South East of England can claim they’ve never been on a delayed train.

Of course, no train company is perfect, but Southern Rail has had no shortage of temper derailing incidents of late, especially with the timetable changes. It’s really showed in how they’re discussed online.

As a newcomer to Brandwatch and using Brandwatch Analytics, I made it my mission to find a ray of hope in the company’s negative online perception.

Beginning the journey

For this analysis we had a look at the impact Southern Rail’s timetable changes have had on their social media presence.

We searched for any mentions which include southern rail as well as the timetable changes and found some interesting insights.

In the Brandwatch platform, we are able to seperate the conversation by negative, positive and neutral sentiment and so that’s what we did here for all conversation about the timetable changes in relation to Southern Rail.

Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look great.

Getting back on the right track

Amongst all the negative comments and Southern Rail struggling to work their new timetables, we found something which might help them get back on the right track.

Brandwatch Analytics’ topics cloud helps us find relevant trending topics that can be sorted by different elements like emojis or hashtags and color coded according to the sentiment of the post. Red is bad, but amid all the negativity, we spotted something in green (good!).

This was definitely the drop of hope in a fairly toxic conversation pool we were hoping to find. #InternationalWomensDay

As you can see in the tweet, Southern Rail displayed inspirational quotes on their announcement display on #InternationalWomensDay and people loved it.

The end of the line

When sentiment around your brand is this bad, finding ways to make things better might seem like a daunting task.

Clearly, though, getting involved with universally respected campaigns is one way to improve sentiment. If Southern Rail want sentiment around their brand to improve, perhaps finding creative ways to celebrate and contribute to more upcoming international days such as Global Handwashing Day (15th October) or World Food Day (16th October) could be one way to do it.

Of course, fixing the problems that people are most angry about, like late trains, are going to be the most effective ways to help improve sentiment in the long term. Causes can only go so far, although they can give a brand a personality that transcends their day-to-day services.

If Southern Rail can use their platform (get it) as a very visible brand in many people’s lives to promote campaigns and make journeys more enjoyable in little ways, perhaps their positive sentiment will steam ahead of the negative.

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