If you’ve ever taken a train in France, then you’re probably already familiar with SNCF. Founded in 1938, it has served as France’s national state-owned railway company, operating a massive network of more than 32,000 km of track, with almost 14,000 trains in operation on any given day. To keep all these trains moving, the company employs more than 260,000 people, including everyone from marketers and corporate managers to engineers and conductors. It has a yearly revenue of roughly 33.5 billion euros, and connects its millions of passengers to destinations all over France and all across Europe.
To Keep the Trains Running, Communication is Key
As one can imagine, keeping such a large operation running smoothly requires a great deal of communication. And not just internal communication—keeping the general public appraised of recent events, news, and developments is key. Why, with track construction, new routes and timetables, and the periodic delays needing to be publicized, it’s no surprise that such an organization would look for innovative ways to share crucial information and brand messaging with the public. True, there are the more conventional methods, but in the digital age of instant information, they’re increasingly becoming outdated. In their place, new, more tech-forward solutions are needed. And one of these solutions, for SNCF, included a new employee ambassador program, launched two years ago, that sought to use the power of SNCF employees’ own enthusiasm and social networks to keep the company’s customers informed and engaged.
Social media and a team of enthusiastic employees provided SNCF with a new way to keep customers in the loop.
Identifying the Connected Employees
A crucial first step in beginning the program was identifying the employees best equipped to share information. This involved contacting the employees with the proper position and social media following to invite them to participate in the program. Once on board, the next step was to create the team identity itself, which was accomplished in part by the implementation of the #TeamSNCF hashtag as a means of unifying the group and labeling relevant news. Today there are 170 employees in the Team who daily share the hidden face of their jobs.
According to Linda Oumahi, SNCF’s Manager of Special Digital Operations & Social Media, “They are very engaged, it’s a team with great solidarity, and they’re proud to participate.” Needless to say, selecting the right participants was perhaps the most important part of launching the initiative, with the prospect to grow the team as other employees became aware and grew their own online network accordingly.
“They are very engaged, it’s a team with great solidarity, and they’re proud to participate.”
—Linda Oumahi, SNCF’s Manager of Special Digital Operations & Social Media
Another Advantage: Building Their Personal Brand
By participating in the ambassador program, employees had the unique opportunity to interact with the public via social media in a way that promoted the SNCF brand, and formed a stronger link between the company and its customers. But there was another benefit as well. The activity around the program helped enhance the employees own personal online brands, and reinforced their role as online thought leaders and experts in their field. Which in turn made them more credible as ambassadors of the brand. In this way, the program benefited both employers and employees—a common feature of employee advocacy initiatives that are well-planned and properly executed.
Selecting the Right Employee Advocacy Platform
When it came to choosing the employee advocacy platform best suited for launching an ambassador program, SNCF chose Sociabble. Because of its centralized online hub, themed channels, and streamlined interface, it also has the advantage of being able to keep the team members informed of company news as well, so that they can then pass it on to customers over social media. According to Ines Mouloudji, SNCF’s Head of Digital Projects, “It truly informs them of the nature of problems, and their solutions.” The participants of the program have joined together as part of a cohesive team, and with the Sociabble platform, they have been able to seamlessly receive, share, and post crucial company developments, keeping the public aware of any changes or new developments to train service.
The Sociabble platform allowed employees to act as ambassadors, but also stay up to speed on internal company news as well.
The Results Speak for Themselves
Beginning with a team of 170 brand ambassadors, SNCF has already seen tremendous results in terms of online communication. 93% of team members have utilized the #TeamSNCF hashtag, resulting in 608 tweets per month, and three million total views over the course of the year. That’s a three-fold increase in organic reach compared to previous years, all thanks to this employee advocacy initiative. Customers have become acquainted with the program and its associated hashtag, and the employee ambassadors have become a crucial link between the company and the general public, all thanks to their own social media profiles, which clearly state their role at the company. They have become an invaluable outlet for relaying the company’s most important updates and information, in an industry where situations can change quickly and problems and solutions must constantly be managed. They are, in effect, a first line of company communication.
93% of team members have utilized the #TeamSNCF hashtag, resulting in 608 tweets per month, and three million total views over the course of the year.
Sociabble is Designed to Empower Employees
As far as platforms go, Sociabble is specifically designed for employee communication and employee advocacy programs. It has been used in over 80 countries, by companies like Walt Disney, Coca-Cola, BNP Paribas, L’Oreal, Microsoft, and of course, SNCF. But it’s more than just a technologically advanced platform—it’s backed up by a full methodology, launch materials, and complete CSM support. We’ve launched hundreds of online employee communication programs all over the world, with corporate leaders in every kind of industry. We’ve been there from start to finish for employee communication and advocacy platforms with almost every kind of goal in mind. And we couldn’t be prouder to watch our clients achieve success, and to see their employees become informed, engaged, and influential, both within their companies, and in the larger online ecosystem as a whole.
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To watch a webinar about the SNCF ambassador program and employee advocacy case study, just click below.