Job of the Week: Riding the rails to craft Amtrak’s social media strategy

Correction: A previous version of this story included incorrect spelling of Julia Quinn’s name. This version has been corrected.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools have become a powerful way for Amtrak, the District-based passenger railroad giant, to communicate with its riders. Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s director of social media, talked with Capital Business about the company’s opening for a senior officer of social media.

What is your social media strategy?

Part of our mission with social is to be there to converse with our customers, to hear their feedback — the good, the bad and the ugly — and take that and try to be as constructive as possible. A second major goal for us with social is to help people better understand the products that we offer. [We want customers] to not only think about us as utility service to get you to New York quickly, but also understand that we have this really inspiring way to travel that lets you see the country.

We have a lot of fun doing that. All of our trains have their own unique personality. So a big mission for my group is to spend time traversing the system to better understand what it’s like to travel on a train in the Pacific Northwest, which is different than riding a train through the Deep South.

So this person will get to travel?

We definitely focus on having my team travel at least two long-distance train trips a year, if not more. We have a very small, centralized team in the Washington area, but we are tasked with supporting the entire country. So this person will be asked to act as an account manager for some of the far-reaching regions.

How much time will this person spend on big-picture strategy vs. tweeting or posting to Instagram?

It depends on the day. Not every day is spent doing high-level thinking. We are looking for people who really spend time cultivating their skills and understanding what the social media space looks like.

Some of the most fun is actually getting in the weeds, having those real-time conversations with customers.

Social media jobs are relatively new to the marketplace. What kind of experience should this person have?

At the most basic form, social media is a communications tool. So we’re looking for someone with a strong communications and writing background. Having someone who has run social for another brand? Those people are few and far between. I’m not trying to find the perfect social media savant, I’m really trying to find someone who knows how to communicate with different audiences. To be honest, what they’re working on today might be totally different than a year from now. So you just want that solid foundation.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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