#AmtrakLIVE Courts Social Media Insiders With a Trip to SXSW

By Kimberlee Morrison 


Amtrak has been getting a lot of attention on social media lately. Since the recent writers’ residency program, interest has been high for Amtrak. The company has been on the social media bandwagon for some time now, but with the recent awareness boost, it’s doubling down on its efforts to reach out to consumers. So #AmtrakLIVE is going to SXSW.

Things have been looking better every year for Amtrak. Ridership has been going up; in the last 11 years Amtrak set 10 yearly records, and in 2013 the company saw 31.6 million riders. While this fact can’t be entirely attributed to the company’s social media strategy, it has been investing in a greater online presence.

Amtrak’s Facebook page has been liked over 377,000 times, and its presence on Instagram inspires a lot of hashtags. According to a blog post from July 2013, the #Amtrak hashtag receives over 1,000 photos a week. The company has certainly seen the benefits that social media brings, and with the writers’ residency program, they could generate more buzz than ever.

To wit, Amtrak is sending a train from L.A. to Austin, Texas, just in time for SXSW, loaded with 30 entrepreneurs and digital thought leaders. While in the specially-reserved observation car, users will tweet using the #AmtrakLIVE tag to keep the Twitterverse updated during the 33-hour trip.

“AmtrakLIVE will have amazing scenery, engaging collaboration and the opportunity to explore and be inspired — it’s all part of the Amtrak long-distance experience,” said Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s director of social media in a statement [PDF]. Social media users are happy to broadcast that they’re on a train, and social media personalities are interested in free rides in exchange for publicity.

So it’s smart for Amtrak to seize the opportunity resulting from the recent upswell of support. Younger people are more concerned with access than ownership, and if Amtrak provides a better experience than flying, users will be crying out for the chance to ride the rails.

Image credit: Loco Steve