Steady Eddie

13 July 2017 | Liz Bowen

Social media is a big deal. In the PR and comms game, it’s a huge deal actually.

For the companies, brands and organisations that use it well, it can raise awareness, enhance their public reputation and increase sales.

Of course, do it badly and it can undo all of those things, but let’s not think about that right now.

Instead, let’s think about a company that has well and truly ‘won the internet’ this week, all thanks to a 15-year-old lad on work experience.

When Southern Rail tasked Eddie with managing their Twitter account, I doubt anyone could have anticipated the response.

Within hours, #AskEddie was a trending topic, with people asking the youngster everything from his favourite film to helping them decide what to have for tea.

His responses went down a storm, with people bemoaning his absence after he left and clamouring for his return – a request Southern Rail was only too happy to approve after inviting Eddie back for a second day this week.

That’s not to say the event was without its critics. Given his responses and the fact they were such a hit, many debated whether ‘Eddie’ was indeed 15, or whether it was just a clever PR stunt by the company, with one of their social media team masquerading as work experience or even the CEO himself.

Southern Rail were quick to respond to these claims, posting a photo of Eddie upon his return.

Some have also raised the point that while the Twitter forum may have been a barrel of laughs for social media users, many rail users have pointed out the fact that many of the delays experienced by Southern Rail customers on a regular basis are less humorous.

Hopefully Eddie was able to charm them round to his way of thinking…

While rail delays are undoubtedly annoying, Southern Rail has tweeted its way into the headlines this week for all the right reasons.

We always talk about the ‘personality’ of social media channels. It’s easy to forget that when entering an online conversation with a client or customer over social media, that you are just talking to another person.

As #AskEddie goes to show, the more personality you put in, the more you’ll get out.