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Eurostar is to integrate social media mentions with advertising, promoting its connection from London to Amsterdam in the run-up to the Olympics.
The brand claims to be the first to integrate real-time comments and photos from Facebook, Twitter and more with “large-scale” advertising, predicting that it will place 4,000 mentions per day onto digital screens around London and the South East
The Eurostar Live campaign will launch on 23 February, which Eurostar says it has developed to help customers travelling around Europe share experiences and advice with each other.
A statement on the company's website said that using the "real-time and multi platform system, an image uploaded online can be re-purposed immediately to run on underground cross–track projections and digital executive channel LCD screens, and comments from bloggers can be live on screen in minutes."
Eurostar says that this is part of the brand’s strategy to use social media to build customer loyalty. It launched user-generated travel advice site EuropebyEurostar.com in 2010, and has previously included customer reviews in press ads as part of its “Little Trip, Big Difference” campaign.
Back in 2009, the company was blasted for ignoring social media when passengers were stuck on its trains at Christmas - and saw similar troubles when delays hit a year later. But that was a few years ago now, following those issues the brand made a concerted effort to integrate its communications efforts better.
Now, @Eurostar is clearly focused on care, with its biography clearly describing it as ‘The official twitter account for Eurostar’s customer care team’, while @EurostarUK's saying that it tweets about ‘the latest Eurostar news, deals and compteitions’.
So, it’s in a much better place, and seems to tweeting fairly regularly from the customer care account to deal with any problems. Of course – to our knowledge – there haven't been any major problems with service of late, so it hasn’t been put to the test yet. But it’s good to see that they’re better prepared in theory.
Placing social mentions into campaigns is something brands have toying with for some time, even though this may well be the first time such a well-known brand has made such a splash about it. First direct led the way with first direct live, Porsche has dabbled, and Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl ad saw its polar bear characters use tablets to display images sent in by fans.
However, putting a stake in the ground and showing that social is important to the brand by investing in this is positive. Plus, it’s worth considering that with some businesses, the path to true integration is a little longer than others.
But picking up on Eurostar's point about this platform aiming to help customers, is it really going to do that?
Waggener Edstrom UK's head of digital Jon Silk said that this was a nice idea, but he’d be very surprised if the ads show useful travel information from other passengers.
They’ll get a burst of PR from doing outdoor ads featuring real-time tweets, but creating long-term value to customers through this is a stretch of the imagination.
From a consumer perspective, is there value in of being able to read content about Eurostar being shared in networks? Possibly, but it's unlikely to really help. It's a solid first step though, and is good for branding for sure.
In time, hopefully Eurostar will push this further by looking at this not only as a way to display things being said – but engage with passengers as well, as per the influencer relations work it does with bloggers across Europe.