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Get Onboard With Twitter Promotions

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As a web worker, I’m always looking for interesting ways to market my products and services. I was impressed by a recent Twitter promotion here in Seattle. It was simple, effective, and cost almost nothing.

sound-transit-logoSound Transit, the agency that is building Seattle’s new light-rail system, is gearing up for the opening of the first line in a few days. It’s getting a lot of press coverage, but the marketing efforts are being supplemented with a special Twitter promotion.

Last Thursday, a hint was posted on the Sound Transit Twitter account:

I’m going have something pretty cool to announce this Monday! You’re gonna like it. Light Rail Fans Please Retweet!

Of course, people did retweet, and the news was picked up by the Seattle Transit Blog, which posted the rumor that there was going to be a ticket giveaway for the inaugural journey:

Ribbon cutting should be at Mount Baker Station at 10 am, and the inaugural ride should start there, for those who have tickets. Rumor has it that a giveaway might be what’s going on @ST_TravelLight on twitter. That’s also who you want to follow for opening day news.

Sure enough, on Monday, Sound Transit twittered:

Get a Link Inaugural Ride Ticket! Be @ Union Station (401 S Jackson St) Tomorrow 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. The 1st 100 people there will get tickets.

sound-transit-ticketI was at Sound Transit headquarters in Union Station at the appointed hour. In the lobby was a line of about 25 people, with more trickling in. I got my ticket and left, but as the morning wore on, Sound Transit updated the Twitter account with the number of tickets remaining; they were all gone within a couple of hours.

This really was a brilliant promotion — simple, easy to implement, and cheap. Total resources needed: someone updating the Twitter feed, a couple of people handing out tickets at a table in the lobby, and some signs reading “Twitter Promotion” on the door. The tickets and accompanying informational materials had already been printed.

Yes, Sound Transit could have used other media (or even its own web site!) to get the word out. But by using Twitter, Sound Transit knew exactly how many people would get the notices (743), and so had a good idea of how many tickets were needed. So the line was manageable, and crowd control was not an issue. Beyond that, Sound Transit also knew that its Twitter followers are train and transit geeks. It couldn’t have asked for a better-targeted audience: one that’s very likely to say positive things about the new light-rail system.

I know that I will recommend similar promotions to my clients, and to some of the community organizations with which I work, in the future. And I’ll see you on the train on Saturday!

Have you used Twitter and other social media for small, informal promotions? How well have they worked for you?

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