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Citi Bikes Win with AWM NYC Members

On Monday, September 30 Alliance for Women in Media’s New York Affiliate held their first event of the season, and I found myself running late. I rushed to the meeting, wishing that I had one of those Citi Bikes to speed my journey. This was a fitting thought as the night’s speaker was Elyssa Gray, head of Creative and Media for Citi, and a key creative mind behind the successful New York City “Citi Bike” initiative.

Social media is a major theme for the Alliance for Women in Media’s programs this fall. Each event that AWM hosts this season will feature how you can use social media to enhance your business plans. Citi took advantage of social media as their main way to promote the Citi Bike program. Ms. Gray explained that Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other forms of social media were a great way to get people talking about the Citi Bike initiative. She said that the coverage in media impressions of Citi Bike was double what they had planned, with Online and social media accentuated the program and made it visible to more people.

Ms. Gray discussed the challenges of setting up the program and why Citi felt that they could make the program a successful one. Ms. Gray said that the Citi brand had always stood for helping people, and a bike exchange would provide New York City with a new, clean, efficient form of transportation. She realized that Citi could utilize the bikes as free publicity, displaying their brand all over the city in a very positive manner. In addition, using the Citi card to purchase the bikes would allow customers additional perks, further highlighting the brand. With the overwhelming support of the program, Citi found that people thought more highly of their brand, as well as seeing that Citi as a whole was gaining new costumers. Ms. Gray talked about Millward Brown, a media/data company that gathers metrics about the brands. While she couldn’t discuss specific data, she said that the metrics had achieved considerable success, not a surprise seeing how strong the program has been in a relatively short time.

An exciting and innovative way to expand the brand was through the Citi Bike mobile app, which was co-branded with the New York Times "Scoutmob." The app shows users the location of available bikes, as well as critic's picks of exciting places and events one can view while on their bike route. Embracing social media and mobile capabilities has been an important step in spreading positive word about the program, as well as Citi in general. Ms. Gray mentioned that the program could relate to the brand as a whole, noting how Citi and the bikes both “Move you forward in life.” Ms. Gray and the rest of Citi is ecstatic for the success of the program but they know they need to keep innovating to stay on top and “Win back New York City.” With a five year rollout plan for the program, customers are excited for the future of Citi Bike and the innovations Citi will surely continue to rollout through the years.

by: Thomas Wolf

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