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Twitter: harming your reputation since 2006

Many, many companies in the transport industry are on Twitter today.

Some of them tweet a little. Some of them tweet a lot. Some of them simply regurgitate what others tweet.

Hardly anybody does it properly.

Let’s stop for a second and take a reality check. How do ordinary, every day people (i.e, your customers, passengers, users) use Twitter?

Their brains and thoughts are not linked to RSS feeds. They’re not automated bots.  They don’t ‘sign off’ at 8pm and return ‘bright and early at 9am’.

But your companies’ Twitter feed does exactly this.

What’s the point?

Your customers probably think you’re lazy. Unapproachable. They want their voice to be heard when their bus doesn’t turn up, or when they’re frustrated because they’re stuck on a platform. Social mobility has given them that freedom of expression.

To ignore them past your closing time is to deny them that freedom of expression – something they value highly in today’s society.

How many times have you personally used an email form to make a comment or complaint, and never heard a peep back from the company / person in question?

Twitter is a place of replies, of mentions, of retweets. Not ignorance.

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0 Response

  1. fred

    So are you saying companies should not use Twitter, or that they should devote resources to operating 24/7 in case anyone wants to talk out of hours? If so, what is the business case, given that transport is often paying for things using taxpayer’s money.

    How about other industries – should everyone be “on call” round the clock? My local supermarket shuts at night – are they too denying me freedom of expression?

    1. Not necessarily. Let’s use a generic train operating company as an example. Most rail services in the UK finish sometime before midnight, with the exception of some airport and intercity services, so 24hr tweeting obviously isn’t needed here. But, when the city worker who finishes his/her shift at 9pm is stood on a platform at a major station and their train hasn’t turned up, they expect to know why. And they get an answer, because there is somebody around or there’s a PA system which tells them the reason.

      But now consider the out-of-city traveller, also stood on a smaller platform in the suburbs. The staff at the ticket office have gone home at 5pm, there’s no electronic announcement system in place – how do they find out why they’re still on the platform, 10 minutes after their train was due to arrive?

      Automated systems are typically useless in these situations – and a Twitter account which has the headline “We’re tweeting between 8am and 6pm, Monday – Friday!” only serves to frustrate the customer more…

      Matt @ TD

      1. fred

        How many suburban stations in locations where this situation might arise vaguely frequently lack any form of real-time PIS these days – in the southeast even minor stations have screens? If the passenger could access Twitter, they can probably get to National Rail Enquiries, live departure boards etc.

        SWT was a late adopter of Twitter, and that surely damaged their reputation more than not working round the clock now they’ve got it.

        At the end of the day, how much more would passengers and taxpayers be willing to pay to ensure instant replies by Twitter at 9pm?

    2. Neil Williams

      “So are you saying companies should not use Twitter, or that they should devote resources to operating 24/7 in case anyone wants to talk out of hours?”

      Transport companies should certainly respond to customer queries throughout their period of operation, yes.


  2. Neil Williams

    That and London Midland. Interestingly, the out of hours Twitter service is done by their Marketing Manager via his phone. Possibly not economic were he not so committed, I guess. But very, very useful, as out of hours is when traditional lines of communication go down.

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