Visit to Virgin Trains

In week 7 we visited the Virgin Trains headquarters in Birmingham City Centre. Our visit consisted of finding out information about the social media department, then we overlooked the social media department.

Firstly, we spoke to the head of social media: Richard Shilton. He told us about his journey from school and how he obtained the role he has today.

He says Virgin trains are fairly new to social media. It took a while to convince other departments that having a social media presence would be beneficial for the brand. When they first got social media, they used it to show their first class services whilst replying to enquiries from customers. This wasn’t working as well as it could so the Virgin team studied social media in depth to learn about how to use it. This has enabled them to build a large following by posting fun content. Their tone of voice is to be funny and have a bit of banter with their customers, whilst answering their queries.

There are 7 people on the social media team. Richard mentioned that it could be difficult to retain the same brand voice when you have 7 different ways of replying to comments. This is why they have a tone of voice to follow. There are 10 of us managing Alternative Britain  who are all from different backgrounds.

The second part of the visit was to shadow 3 members of the social media team. Virgin trains were undergoing a disruption when we visited. This is when something disrupts the train line. It was interesting to see the amount of messages they were having, and how they were responding to them. They used a tool called ‘Social Media Sign In.’ It allowed them to connect Facebook and Twitter so it was easy to see new messages, which could be replied to instantly.

I learnt a lot from this visit. The main point that will stick with me is the importance of having a brand voice. Alternative Britain do not have an official brand voice that has been decided on, so this is one factor we should work on.

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