Social media: for the intern or the expert?

Southern Rail’s Eddie the social media eagle got us thinking…How brands view social media plays a key role in who they trust to own it.

Here at The Crocodile, we’re believers in bringing in the experts (or certainly using experts to develop the expertise before being let loose). Here’s why:

  • Tone of voice – the way your business communicates on social media is important. It’s what you stand for, what your company is about and how you represent yourselves. This responsibility shouldn’t be left in the hands of an amateur.
  • Accuracy – social media is arguably the closest channel to your customers. One wrong move, misrepresentation or error can have detrimental effects on your brand. The biggest social media fails of 2017 so far are examples of businesses dropping the ball.
  • Relevance – your audience follows your social feeds because they know what they’re getting. Social media managers are skilled at considering content, timing, frequency, customer insight, online behaviour, trends and more, in a way not possible by a non-expert.
  • Strategy – social media is a contributor to delivering against business objectives. Market knowledge and insights should be important informers of your social approach and content planning. A newbie won’t have such insight.
  • Integration – social media doesn’t stand alone. Understanding the value and role of social media in the marketing mix both in driving and supporting brand awareness, website referrals and lead nurturing is important, particularly in B2B.

For a break from the customary customer criticism and the dreariness of delayed train updates seen on @SouthernRailUK, it’s easy to see why they took a chance on Eddie. There’s no doubt he brought a welcome feel-good factor, and analysis from leading social media analytics tool Crimson Hexagon shows positive impacts on engagement, sentiment and emotion levels, compared to the days and week prior:

Engagement Sentiment


Eddie demonstrated personality in abundance but also evidence of careful planning and preparations behind the scenes. This doesn’t mean he had a rigid editorial plan or business objective beyond inducing smiles, but certainly was competent in quick thinking, wit, staying on-brand when it mattered, and selecting only the atypical tweets to respond to. It was also clear that Eddie wasn’t left entirely to his own in-experienced devices, with Neil (Southern Rail’s regular tweeter) intervening at one point to ensure focus.

To be fair, Southern Rail/Eddie have played a blinder here but, word of warning: don’t be fooled into thinking long-term social media success lies in the hands of your next intern. I’d guess it was an expert’s decision to let Eddie loose on @SouthernRailUK – and not a flippant one.