Video marketing to passengers

  • Over the last few weeks at the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership we've been experimenting with video marketing on social media as a new way to connect with passengers. Here's what we learned...

    1. You don't need expensive kit

    With just a second hand iPhone and some kind-hearted family members as volunteers, we filmed the above 30-second video on the Looe Valley Line to encourage young families to try the train.

    2. You can edit your video cheaply

    Because we're based at Plymouth University, we were lucky enough to have access to Adobe's professional Premiere Pro software to edit the film together. However, you can achieve similar results with free or cheap programs/apps such as iMovie - available for £3.99 on the iTunes Store. (Here's a short "Station to the office by bike" video that I created with iMovie back in 2011).


    These cheaper editing programs have the advantage of being nice and simple to use - with plenty of tutorials and advice at your finger tips with a quick Google search. iMovie also has royalty-free music you can add straight into your video.

    3. Promoting your video on social media is straightforward, cost effective, and can be highly targeted

    Sharing your video on your CRP's Facebook or Twitter account is a great start. Make sure to upload the video direct within Facebook or Twitter (in exactly the same way you would add a photo). This will mean that the video will automatically play in people's news feeds, rather than needing them to actively click the "Play" button (which is what happens with YouTube videos shared on Facebook). It's also worth noting that these "auto-play" videos on Facebook have the sound muted until the user actively clicks to turn on the audio. This means that it's a good idea to add captions or headlines, so that your video can be understood even without sound.


    To reach even more people, if you can afford even a £20 budget then it is worth "Boosting" your Facebook post, or creating a Twitter ad. The process is fairly straightforward, and you can achieve some powerful things. You can tell Facebook to show your post only to people who live in certain towns, who are of a certain gender or age, who have children, or who are interested in a huge range of activities. For example this means you could target "Walks from the railway" material at only those people who live near rail-served towns along your line and who have expressed an interest in walking or the outdoors.

    4. Facebook rules the roost

    In our young families campaign, we spent £50 each on four social networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. As you can see below, our video was seen by more than 10,000 local parents - with more than 70% of these views happening on Facebook. YouTube deserves an honourable mention too thanks to its pricing model, whereby you only pay if the user watches the entirety of your 30-second advert (or if they click to visit your website). This means that what YouTube lacked in sheer numbers, it made up for in high quality engagement. Also a negative point about Twitter - its geographical targeting is extremely fiddly (on the others it's a doddle), so may be worth avoiding.

    I realise this is a bit of a whirlwind tour, but it hopefully gives you a taster and perhaps even spurs you to experiment with your own videos. We are certainly convinced and have more videos in the pipeline as we speak. If you want to learn more, I'm happy to help, or Googling will give you lots of free tips and tutorials.

  • Rowena Chantler
    Rowena Chantler Fabulous, I love these ideas! Thanks for sharing - are you sure you don't want to come and work for the Penistone Line?!
    December 19, 2017
  • Mike Parker-Bray
    Mike Parker-Bray Thanks Rowena, glad you found it useful. Since then, we've done several more videos - mainly with a couple of agencies. Requires a fair bit of preparation, logistics and luck with the weather, but can get some really good results.

    Available to watch...  more
    December 19, 2017