Let's Play "Routes With Friends" on Merced The Bus' Facebook Page - by Lost Art Communications

Target Audience: The targets for this social media contest were existing Facebook friends and followers of The Bus, Merced County, California's Public Transportation Service. A secondary target were friends of The Bus' Facebook followers to increase The Bus' following.

Strategy Objective:The objective of this social media campaign was to host a contest, themed along the same lines as the very popular Facebook game "Words with Friends" called "Routes with Friends". The contest included posting of pictures taken along The Bus' many routes, and encouraging our Facebook friends and followers to guess on which route or routes the pictures were taken, testing their knowledge of The Bus' routes throughout the County. The timing of the contest was such that it promoted The Bus' free shuttles to the annual County Fair in June, as well as to promote The Bus' "Summer of Free Fares" on all fixed routes to reduce pollution during the hot summer months.

Situation Challenge: This contest was intended to maintain and increased ridership, but even more importantly, it was to have fun playing a social media game and to reward The Bus' loyal passengers and Facebook friends.

Results Impact: We had a total of 90 people play the contest which equates to 1.7 percent of The Bus' Facebook followers. This was right in line with our objective to attract between 1.5 and 2 percent of our Facebook followers. There were also thousands more Facebook followers who saw and commented on the contest posts, which we considered to be very effective. Most importantly, our passengers had fun playing along, with many of them commenting that they wanted the contest to be longer or repeated later in the year. The contest also served to effectively promote the upcoming "Summer of Free Fares" and the free shuttle to the annual County Fair in June. Ridership throughout the summer was up, mostly due to the free fares, but we also believe the Routes with Friends contest contributed to the success.

Why Submit: The Routes with Friends contest definitely achieved its primary goal, that of hosting a social media contest that would be both fun and educational for our passengers across Merced County. The creative approach, to leverage a recognizable Facebook game like "Words with Friends" to ensure the target audience would quickly understand and embrace participating in the contest, resulted in thousands of Facebook reactions, engagements, and impressions. We also believe it was very effective at projecting a fun and playful image for The Bus to encourage more passengers to use public transportation.