Texas bus and train operators see banner Valentine's Day

Commuters sharing the love find there really is such a thing as a free ride.

Organization: Denton County Transportation Authority (Denton, Texas)
Campaign: Valentine’s Day #BeMine Campaign
Duration: February 2 - February 14, 2015
Budget: about $10,000

Promoting free rides on Valentine’s Day helped the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) boost ridership and brand awareness.

"We have low trending ridership in February," explains DCTA marketing communications specialist Adrienne Hamilton. "Valentine’s Day gave us the opportunity to show appreciation to passengers and increase ridership and brand awareness. DCTA is a newer agency [12 years old], and we have a car-centric audience. This campaign also allowed us to highlight some things passengers could do for Valentine’s Day by taking public transit."

Strategy
Passengers who said "be mine" to A-train commuter rail and Connect Bus operators on February 14 got free rides all day and night.

Hamilton and her team promoted the message along with date ideas involving transit routes and local businesses across owned digital channels and media relations.

"Digital is a huge communications channel for us," Hamilton says. "Building a webpage to house all of the information passengers needed, including links to departure times, was important."

Local businesses and long-time partner Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau also promoted the campaign to their online audiences.

Tactics
A dedicated campaign page launched within DCTA’s main website (RideDCTA.net) on February 2. It included trip planning tips; a link to DCTA’s "Transit Talk" blog, which provided detailed date suggestions with information about local businesses; and a link to a new "Where’s My Ride" vehicle tracking tool that launched in January.

Images featuring couples riding transit and the hashtag #BeMine were pushed out on all owned digital channels including the RideDCTA.net homepage, the campaign webpage, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

A little under $200 was spent on Facebook and Twitter advertising targeting Denton County and surrounding area residents ages 18 to 65. 

Local and regional traditional media outlets and mom bloggers were pitched beginning February 3.

The Denton CVB shared campaign links on its social media channels and website.

Eleven local restaurants and retailers mentioned in the date ideas blog post promoted the campaign on their social media pages and websites.

Results
Comparing Valentine’s Day 2015 to average Saturday ridership in February 2014, Hamilton reports A-train ridership jumped 34% to 782 passenger trips, and bus ridership increased 14% to 946 passenger trips. 

Organic engagement on campaign-related Facebook posts between February 2 and 14 was 33% higher than organic engagement on non-campaign related posts. Organic engagement on campaign-related tweets was 30% higher on non-campaign related tweets during the same period.

Facebook ads reached nearly 40,000 people and generated 420 likes, shares, and comments.

Promoted tweets garnered 6,298 impressions (out of 10,397 total) and 103 interactions (out of 220 total).

Between February 2 and 14, RideDCTA.net got 53,999 views, up from 47,458 for the same days in 2014.

The campaign webpage got nearly 800 views between February 2 and 14. Hamilton says this was on par with expectations for the time frame.

The blog got 109 views – more than double the goal.

Seven earned stories ran in local outlets; the goal was two, including The Dallas Morning News and two morning show segments on KTVT-CBS.

Future
Given this campaign’s success, Hamilton will develop and promote additional promotional ride campaigns. Other upcoming plans include promoting summer discount programs through owned channels and ongoing media relations.

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